The Courier-Mail

Meth fight turns into the battle of the bog

- NEIL DOORLEY

THE head of the nation’s criminal investigat­ion agency is calling for the introducti­on of “innovative” measures such as analysing waste water to accurately map the use of illicit drugs, including ice.

Australian Crime Commission chief executive Chris Dawson said testing waste water would provide authoritie­s with early warnings of where drug use was spiking.

Mr Dawson said the informatio­n would allow police and health agencies to “determine localised responses”.

“Waste water analysis is now recognised internatio­nally, and increasing­ly in Australia, as being the most effective and arguably the only objective means of reliably measuring the level of use of a number of prominent illicit drugs in catchment areas covered by the relevant waste water facilities,” Mr Dawson told Melbourne’s National Policing Summit.

“Analysing samples from waste water gives a much more accurate measure of actual levels of drug use.

“Unlike survey data, it doesn’t rely on people having to self-report their drug use, and it can be repeated as often as required, without having to wait months for the results.”

Addicts excrete minute traces of the drugs they’ve consumed in their urine, and analysing waste water at sewage plants would reveal a pattern of drug use within 24 hours of the drugs being used.

Mr Dawson highlighte­d the success of a waste water study revealing the alarming rate of ice consumptio­n in Adelaide.

The study was conducted from December 2011 until June last year, and found the number of doses almost doubled in three years.

Mr Dawson said testing, which was conducted twice a month, showed methamphet­amine was consumed at the “highest level across the stimulants tested”.

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