19 Jun 2014

Meth focus reduced - Police Assn

9:02 am on 19 June 2014

The Police Association has warned that the temporary disbanding of up to four organised crime squads in the North Island could allow the methamphetamine trade to gain traction.

The Vice President of the Police Association Luke Shadbolt said there had been a loss of focus in combating the meth trade with the drug squad's staff being reassigned to temporarily fight child abuse.

Mr Shadbolt said the drug crime squads affected were in Eastern District, Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Central Districts.

He said the Association was most concerned with the current lack of police focus, and confusion over where priorities lay.

He said in no way did the association think that child abuse cases were not a priority, but the reassignment of staff could allow gangs and criminals to take advantage.

But the police said they have not taken their eye off organised crime.

The Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess told Morning Report they have assigned resources to a high priority area - and there is no bigger priority than protecting vulnerable children.

"The issue for us is what is the highest priority? Is it more important for us to protect a child from the risk of physical or sexual abuse, or is it more important for us to assign a staff member to look at a meth problem," he said.

He said he was confident they have already got the right things in place to monitor the methamphetamine problem, and were dealing with it effectively.