28 Nov 2016

Police swap meth arrests for rehab help

9:13 am on 28 November 2016

Waitemata Police are no longer prosecuting all P dealers and are instead trying to encourage addicts to seek rehabilitation.

For low-level offending, police are trying to get help for addicts, rather than prosecute them.

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Detective Senior Senior Sergeant Stan Brown told the RNZ podcast From Zero the decision was made "case by case".

Serious dealers and those selling to children are still being arrested.

But arrest by itself would not work, he said, and for someone selling to "an adult mate next door" to finance their own supply the better option may be to offer help to try to stop them using methamphetamine.

David Collinge, founder of an addiction recovery programme, said it was a sensible way to look at things.

Many people are selling small quantities, within their own circle, to finance their own habit.

"Looking at it on a case by case basis does make some sense.

Meth is "tearing communities and families apart" so is not not to be taken lightly, but people should not be branded as dealers if they are not.

"We really need to be look at other ways of attacking the problem," he said.

Mr Collinge said other police forces should "definitely" follow this approach.

You can hear more on this on the From Zero podcast series on Kiwis and drugs here.

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