Meth convictions hit a record high but police suggest numbers could be higher

By March 23, 2021 Recent News

Stuff 24 March 2021
Criminal charges for methamphetamine have hit record numbers but police say the figures could be higher still as they are using discretion to keep people out of courts.

Changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act in 2019 encouraged police to use discretion when people were caught with drugs for personal use and said a health approach – rather than prosecution – should be considered unless prosecution was in the public interest.

But new figures out from the Ministry of Justice show that more than half of all drug charges are now for methamphetamine, also called P or meth, and the numbers have almost doubled in the past decade with 8262 individual charges for the drug in 2020.

“It is across every stratum of society,” said Lieutenant Colonel Lynette Hutson​, national director of the Salvation Army’s alcohol and drug addiction Bridge programme.

“Professional people, high-functioning people, high-income people, to people in low socio-economic conditions.”

Meth use was on the rise and “doesn’t seem to be slowing”, but alcohol remained the most harmful addiction, she said.

The ministry figures show that 15,434 people faced drug charges in 2020. Of those, 8262 – more than half – were for methamphetamine, or P.

“Methamphetamine is a horrendous drug that can have a devastating impact, not only on the person using it, but their families, friends and their wider community.”