Saturday, 15 October 2016

Police are not winning the P war - they need to focus on demand

Just a quick follow-up on yesterday's post, where I reviewed the excellent Tom Wainwright book, "Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel". Last week, the New Zealand Herald had a front page story about the drug (read: methamphetamine, or P) war in New Zealand:
Police Association president Greg O'Connor said despite several big drug busts in recent months, anecdotal evidence from front line officers suggested the country now had a greater problem with the drug than ever before...
Police announced yesterday they had seized $17 million worth of the drug following a seven-month investigation. And in June almost $500 million worth of meth was discovered in Kaitaia - the biggest P haul in New Zealand history.
But O'Connor said despite such significant stings, they seemingly had no impact on the price - or availability - of the drug.
"We've got a major issue," he said.
"We're having a second wave now."
"The first wave was at the end of the 90s. It sort of caught New Zealand by surprise - the policies were way behind."
For those of you who read yesterday's post, or my post from back in March, or this post from 2015, this should come as no surprise. When you target sellers, you may increase the price, which simply increases profits and encourages more sellers to step into the market. At least this point doesn't appear to be totally lost on the police, with both demand-side and supply-side policies featuring in their 'wish-list':
Asked whether we had made a dent in the war against P, O'Connor replied: "It doesn't appear so."
More rehabilitation services were needed for those battling meth addiction.
A shortage of organised crime policing, particularly in the provinces, was also a problem, he said. A police spokeswoman said law enforcement agencies worldwide were facing problems with meth.
"But stamping out meth is not police's job alone. It requires law enforcement and social agencies to work together. That's what we're doing under the Prime Minister's Meth Action Plan."
She also noted work around the Government's gang action plan aimed at targeting and dismantling gang activity.
"These are all valuable multi-agency tools that help us to combat meth in NZ. We've had some great results so far, but we recognise there's still more work to be done."
That additional work had best focus on the demand side of the market.

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