Tuesday, 28 March 2017 - 10:02am
Joint release from New Zealand Customs Service, Ministry of Health and New Zealand Police
The baseline results for the first three rounds of testing in the Wastewater Pilot programme have been released today.
The programme began in December 2016 and aims to provide a better picture of the prevalence of drug use in New Zealand communities.
“Authorities use a range of measures to understand drug trafficking and the use of illicit drugs in our communities,” says Customs Group Manager Intelligence, Investigations and Enforcement, Jamie Bamford. “These include information exchange with overseas partners, drug seizures, global drug surveys, speaking with drug users, and national surveys such as the New Zealand Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (NZ-ADAM) programme.”
“These measures provide valuable insight from supply and user perspectives, and the wastewater programme provides the essential scientific testing and analysis required to help us more accurately assess the levels of drug consumption in New Zealand.”
Ministry of Health’s Dr John Crawshaw, Director of Mental Health, says this programme will be the first time authorities have access to quantitative data that will allow for a more accurate picture of drug use in those communities where the testing is conducted.
“The programme will also show if an area sees changes in drug use patterns as well as the introduction of a drug in an area where it has previously tested negative,” says Dr Crawshaw.
“This information will help government consider responses to the needs identified in the results.”
Today sees the first quarter of results, December 2016 to February 2017, published online which will begin building a baseline for future testing.
“As this is the first time New Zealand Government has undertaken this type of programme, we need to ensure that we have an appropriate baseline to compare future results from,” says Assistant Commissioner Bill Searle, New Zealand Police.
“While this report does include three months’ worth of data, it is difficult to make meaningful analysis of the results until further data is available. However, we can see from the results that there is no alpha-PVP or heroin being found in either testing site. The absence of these drugs in the areas being tested is good news for agencies.”
Further results will continue to be released on the Police website on a quarterly basis with further commentary provided in the report as long-term trends become available.