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Funding for police meth lab cleanup teams

Funding for police methamphetamine lab cleanup teams

The Government will spend $6.6m over four years to fund two police teams trained in the cleanup of clandestine methamphetamine laboratories.

The initiative was announced in today's Budget.

Police Minister George Hawkins said the two teams, each with five police officers and two civilian staff, would be based in Auckland and Wellington, with the Wellington team also covering the South Island. They would begin work on 1 January 2004.

"The creation of new positions such as these increases police capability to combat the significant risks posed to the public by clandestine laboratories," Mr Hawkins said.

Premises used as laboratories to manufacture methamphetamine often became contaminated by chemicals, along with surrounding areas.

"This exposes anyone subsequently using the buildings to serious health risks if the premises are not thoroughly cleaned," Mr Hawkins said.

Teams fully trained and certified to deal with chemical and safety hazards from illegal methamphetamine manufacture were necessary to allow Police to effectively respond to New Zealand's growing clandestine laboratory problem.

Once operational, the teams would allow New Zealand to meet recently implemented Australia New Zealand Handling and Destruction Drug Standard (AS/NZS 4757:2002).

In 1999, Police found six labs manufacturing methamphetamine, 9 in 2000, 41 in 2001 and 147 in 2002. Fourteen labs were found in the first two months of this year.

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