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ESR Bottleneck Lets Crims Go Free

ESR Bottleneck Lets Crims Go Free

ACT New Zealand Police Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today accused Police Minister George Hawkins of doing nothing more than paying lip service to the looming methamphetamines crisis, in light of new information showing a huge backlog of forensic work relating to meth crime.

"Answers to my written Parliamentary Questions have revealed that, as of July 1 2003, 197 clan lab cases had been referred by police to the Institute of Environmental Science and Research for examination - 109 have not even been acted upon, five of which have been waiting over a year," Dr Newman said.

"Some police are now being told that, when they discover a clan lab, they will have to wait at least two years before the evidence will be analysed and prepared for court. Meanwhile, the criminals responsible for the lab are on the streets, free to commit more crimes.

"This means that, no matter how effective police are in cracking down on meth, they can only go so far. Lack of ESR funding means that police investigations hit a stonewall, and can go no further. This is hugely demoralising for police.

"Mr Hawkins has admitted that meth labs pose a significant risk to the public. Yet, while police have sought specific funding to tackle the meth problem for seven years, Labour included no extra funding for ESR in the latest Budget. Further, police methamphetamine response units are not funded to begin until next January.

"With effective drug policing now being delayed for years, due to a bottleneck in the forensic investigative process, resourcing is now becoming the key obstacle to justice in this country. By only paying lip service to this crisis, the soft-on-crime Labour Government is putting New Zealanders in danger, by allowing criminal gangs to run amok," Dr Newman said.

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