Hid­den ef­fect of drug use


Joondalup Times - - FRONT PAGE - Lau­ren Pilat

LIKE smok­ing, meth or ice users are not the only peo­ple whose health and liveli­hoods are detri­men­tally af­fected by the drug.

Aus­tralian fam­i­lies liv­ing in prop­er­ties where meth has been smoked or man­u­fac­tured are suf­fer­ing from health is­sues, with chil­dren and preg­nant women the most vul­ner­a­ble.

The se­vere health risks and dam­age caused by meth residue have forced fam­i­lies across the coun­try to move from their con­tam­i­nated homes, of­ten with nowhere else to go.

THE dan­gers of mak­ing meth have led to fewer res­i­den­tial drug labs but the “sad re­al­ity” now is that it’s cheap and ac­ces­si­ble, says Wan­neroo po­lice of­fi­cer-in-charge Si­mon Hazell.

This fi­nan­cial year, to the end of Fe­bru­ary, WA Po­lice and agency part­ners seized more than 1.3 tonnes of meth es­ti­mated to be worth up to $1.3 bil­lion.

Snr Sgt Hazell said meth was now “much cheaper and read­ily avail­able” in higher quan­ti­ties due to il­le­gal mass im­ports and or­gan­ised crime in­volve­ment in its pro­duc­tion.

“WA Po­lice have no­ticed a de­crease in meth labs in pri­vate premises be­cause the man­u­fac­tur­ing process is too dan­ger­ous and it’s cheap to buy,” he said.

From Jan­uary 2017 to March 20 this year, Wan­neroo po­lice of­fi­cers con­ducted 356 in­ves­ti­ga­tions into drug of­fences that re­sulted in 326 peo­ple charged.

Po­lice of­fi­cers re­port clan­des­tine labs and meth use to the Depart­ment of Health and the rel­e­vant lo­cal gov­ern­ment which then assess what ac­tion should be taken.

Wan­neroo plan­ning and sus­tain­abil­ity direc­tor Mark Dick­son said the City’s prin­ci­pal en­vi­ron­men­tal health of­fi­cer had been alerted to one meth lab and three in­ci­dents of meth use in the last five years.

Mr Dick­son said the of­fi­cer de­ter­mined what ac­tion should be taken in re­gards to meth labs to en­sure the dwelling was fit for ten­ants be­fore al­low­ing peo­ple to move into the prop­erty.

“The of­fi­cer con­tacts the home owner with di­rec­tions about nec­es­sary re­me­di­a­tion work, process guide­lines such as in­for­ma­tion about con­tract­ing in­dus­trial clean­ers and foren­sic testers to clean up the prop­erty, and ver­i­fi­ca­tion re­quire­ments,” he said.

“The foren­sic test­ing con­trac­tor must then pro­vide a writ­ten re­port to the rel­e­vant lo­cal gov­ern­ment con­firm­ing the work un­der­taken, its ef­fec­tive­ness and its com­pli­ance with na­tional guide­lines.”

If the re­port was ac­cept­able and no fur­ther work was re­quired, the lo­cal gov­ern­ment would con­tact the home owner to ad­vise them that the dwelling was fit to live in.

How­ever, if the prop­erty was deemed un­fit for ten­ants, Mr Dick­son said en­force­ment ac­tion could be taken to pre­vent oc­cu­pancy un­til the clean-up was com­pleted.

“The process for meth use is sim­i­lar to meth labs, but less oner­ous when meth residue lev­els are lower,” he said.

Snr Sgt Hazell en­cour­aged any­one who no­ticed sus­pi­cious be­hav­iour or thought they lived near a “drug house” to call Crime Stop­pers in­stead of turn­ing to so­cial me­dia.

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