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Hamilton, Helensville attract clan labs

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/04/2017

Methamphetamine © Getty Images Methamphetamine Hamilton and Helensville have been identified as "hotspots" for criminal methamphetamine labs but researchers can't yet put a finger on why.

University of Auckland scientists have for the first time used police figures on clan lab busts to map out where the drug is being produced.

They have also tried to use socio-economic data to explain why the areas attract manufacturing.

The findings were published this week in the journal Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice,

Along with Helensville and Hamilton, other hotspots were Herekino in the Far North, west Auckland's Opanaku and Newton in central Auckland.

The upper half of the North Island was consistently identified as having a high concentration of clandestine laboratories, even after adjusting for population size, says study co-author Daniel Exeter.

Four socio-economic factors had a mild influence on clan lab distribution. Areas with a younger median age, lower median income, higher levels of socio-economic deprivation and rural locations were at greater risk.

"But none of the factors were able to explain the presence of all five of our initial clusters," Dr Exeter said.

The persistence of labs in Helensville and Hamilton suggested unknown factors influencing the geography of North Island labs and further research was needed, he said.

The hot spot data represent an opportunity for prevention and education campaigns, says fellow author David Newcombe.

The research also showed the value of using geographic techniques in health and crime data, and could be used in both law enforcement and public health intervention efforts.

A national, publicly available clan lab registry could help home owners and renters who wanted to ensure their families were protected from exposure to meth-contaminated properties, Dr Newcombe said.

CLAN LAB BUSTS BETWEEN 2010 and 2015:

* there were 561 clan lab seizures in the period

* 130 in 2010, dropping to 68 in 2015

* 69 per cent were in the upper North Island

* 9 per cent were in the South Island

* 57 per cent were found in homes

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