In 3 NZ regions, meth crime has more than doubled

Police say that the supply and demand of methamphetamine is roughly as prevalent in New Zealand as it is globally (file)
Police say that the supply and demand of methamphetamine is roughly as prevalent in New Zealand as it is globally (file)

New figures released to Newshub reveal the number of people caught using, making, dealing or importing P has more than doubled in three police districts since 2013.

The hotspots are Northland, the East Coast and Canterbury.

The number of charges laid for methamphetamine has nearly doubled in southern and Bay of Plenty districts, while there's been a steady rise in Waikato and central.

Former meth user Haydee Richards comes from the Bay of Plenty, where the number of meth charges laid by police has jumped from 214 in 2013 to 395 last year.

Richards was 28 when she began using P. Her addiction landed her behind bars for 12 months.

She's now been clean for more than five years, and is helping others break the habit.

"It's just everywhere," she says. "It's easy to get, and once you're on it it's just really, really hard to get off it."

The 45-year-old isn't surprised by the numbers, and sees people from all walks of life getting hooked.

"It could be the person you're working with; it could be your next-door neighbour. There's no discrimination on who uses."

On the East Coast, the problem is even worse. Three years ago 58 P charges were laid. By last year that had almost tripled to 153.

Former-gang-member-turned-Gisborne-community-worker Tuta Ngarimu says the drug is easier to get than marijuana.

Through his work, he's seen first-hand the effect it has on families.

"It's stripping the layers of who we are. It's stripping us bare of our identity. I'd even go as far as to say that it's a form of genocide, where it's wiping out a race of people."

The amount of P being seized by authorities has almost tripled over the past three years. Last year, more than 330 kilograms were seized, which was more than three times the amount seized in 2014, and nine times the amount seized in 2013.

More than 800 kilograms were seized in the first half of this year, including a record half-tonne bust on 90 Mile Beach.

The Government last week pledged $15 million towards the fight against P, but the New Zealand Drug Foundation is concerned the focus is still on arrests rather than treatment.

"We know so many people and so many families who are struggling with this problem that when their loved one puts up their hand for help, they're put on a waiting list," says Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell.

In Gisborne, Tuta Ngarimu agrees.

"There's actually nothing being seriously done to address methamphetamine issues that we've got here, nothing at all."

Mr Bell says investing more in rehab services could actually save the country money.

"We know that for every dollar we invest in treatment, we save $7 in wider social costs."

Police say that the supply and demand of methamphetamine is roughly as prevalent in New Zealand as it is globally.

They say they're focused on getting users off the drug and are working alongside other agencies to target those in need.

But what these numbers can't quantify is the number of crimes committed by people high on meth.

Newshub.