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Meth lab cases facing even longer delays

Tony Ryall National Police Spokesman

4 December 2003

Meth lab cases facing even longer delays

Drug cooks caught making methamphetamine may go free as drug testing delays are expected to get even worse, says National's Police spokesman Tony Ryall.

"The Government's drug testing laboratory now says it is expecting to deal with 300 meth labs next year, double the number discovered so far this year.

"The Police Commissioner told Parliament last month that it would take a year to clear the current backlog of 130 cases. And ESR admits it is struggling to cope with even this workload.

"The Labour Government was warned three years ago that this tidal wave of methamphetamine was coming. Both the National Party and the Police Association repeatedly warned Ministers that more resources were needed to tackle this scourge. It is now at crisis point.

"We run the very real risk that methamphetamine "cooks" and dealers may go free because the Police can't get the necessary ESR tests done within a reasonable timeframe.

"This means even more of this insidious drug will flood our communities.

"The Government has done nothing effective; a couple of specialist police teams next year isn't good enough. By that time, another $200 million of drugs will have hit the streets," says Mr Ryall.

In a briefing paper, ESR estimates "it may need to deal with 300 meth labs in the 2003/2004 financial year and the organisation's staff capacity will need to be further increased. However given the extended training time required and the world shortage (of lab staff) this is not easy."

"If the Government had acted two years ago, there would have been sufficient time to train adequate testing staff. Instead, ESR and the police had to beg for more money for their DNA laboratory in Auckland," says Mr Ryall.

Ends


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