Canvassing for Opinion - aka "Blairs Brain on Cannabis"

IMHO prohibition sentiment requires inherent addiction to status quo, an incapacity to visualise beyond the here and now and a desperate desire to know others might feel the same... Reform is not revolutionary, rather it is evolutionary. Having survived banging your head against a brick wall the evolutionist relishes having stopped. / Blair

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Criminal Drug Intelligence We Pay For

While I had Judge Jerry Paradis visiting, I inquired upon the NZ Police NHQ national drug intelligence bureaus if they would be interested in meeting and discussing some of the issues surrounding gangs, drug policy and the international perspective on harm minimisation (and the recently announced BERL Drug Harm Index report) - despite some careful research on who to talk to and via the more general inquiry, it was found that the vessel was empty. 
Despite the Canterbury District Police Commander saying in public meetings that he was open to 'public input' on violence, alcohol an youth, he has consistently refused any meeting with the writer (or indeed Jerry Paradis). He attributes his non-availabiity to 'the political context and proximity to the election' yet he made the above pronouncment at meetings hosted in Christchurch Central by MP Nick Wagner and Labour Candidate Brendon Burns.
this was my key in to National Drug Intelligence Bureau (NDIB)
(1)  Criminal Analysis, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Pacific Region), 5255 Heather St, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V5Z 1K6
Received: 29 August 2007  Accepted: 1 February 2008  Published online: 22 February 2008
Abstract  This article explores the possibility of measuring the impact of law enforcement on organized crime in a reliable and accountable manner, both in general terms and with a practical focus on the Canadian context. In considering measures to combat organized crime, a focus on process measurement has obscured the more substantial question of progress as regards the dependent variable itself: the bottom line of reducing the impact of organized criminal behaviour. While outcome measures are more challenging to identify than process measures, this fact alone does not minimize the need to demonstrate the connection between organized crime enforcement and its presumed outcomes to a greater degree of certainty. To date, this has not been realized to any significant degree, as revealed by a review of existing international approaches to measuring the impact of enforcement activity. The article argues that a multidisciplinary focus on community level indicators of crime, if initially less accessible than process measures of impact on organized crime groups, offers promise as a measurement of absolute and relative impact of state investment in enforcement.
What I found sriking was the consistent manner in which the NDIB 'refused to go there'. They and the NZ Police have a legacy of nonparticipation but endlessly wax lyrical about 'drug policy, community and methamphetamine'. The death of Don Wilkinson is a case in point. Further the expendature on 'public discourse' that engenders fears in the public has risen to 'excess' with the Police presenting the methlab horrors to the Council's "dog control' conference in Masterton friday last. None of the efficacy of this is ever tested.
This is why the Police have resisted any cost benefit accounting based on first principles and are hiding behind the BERL report commissioned by.... the POLICE. (more of that 'we'll investigate ourselves, because only we can!)
A useful start (aside from a full assessment of drug prohibition expenditure and return - ie: J MIRON/Havard Schoolof Economics ) must begin with rejecting the ambiguous 'work performance' measures on seizures and arrests. It bears no correlation to effectiveness of the intervention, worse, it masks the expenditure that could be better used in harm minimisation.
The protocol development towards such a framework has been undertaken by the Australian Institute of Criminology (on behalf of Australia's National Drug Law Enforcement and Research Fund. Its purpose was to 'inform the most effective interventions'.... see A Framework for Measuring the Performance of Drug Law Enforcement . This document when viewed critically against the  systemic and chronic  limitations of the current New Zealand approach shows up our National Drug Intelligence to be either 'honourable men on a hopeless cause' or baldfaced liars self servingly lacking in public empathy. The later looks increasingly the case. 
The New Zealand Police (and the minions of 'tough on crime' politicians for whom meth is a public relations windfall) need to be judged against outcomes. If what we have being doing for the past 33 years (1975 Misuse of Drug Act) was supposed to reduce drug crime and drug related (prohibition) crime, reduce organised crime, improve public health and improve public amenity then this upcoming election is testimony to its historic and current failure.
My 'the elephant in the room' EACD, MCDP, and IACDP inter sectoral failure complaint to the State Services Commission looks increasingly valid. Pity. After calling in the legal experts and discussing it at the highest level (although it was only the acting commissioner) they argued that the work was being done (my complaint was somehow 'proof' the agencies were taking care of business) and referred my extensive critical correspondence on to the respective Ministries of Justice and Health. 
Did they bother to write me....even to acknowledge the buck had been passed? What do you think?
Next month (20-23rd Oct) is the 17th International Safe Communities Conference in Christchurch "Working together to make a difference". Sponsored by Ministry of Justice, Safe Communities, WHO and New Zealand Injury Prevention Strategy (  The stated aim of this conference is very noble, even laudable. Dr Carolyn Coggan, Director (and Chair) Safe Communities Foundation states variously....
  • share knowledge of what works and what doesn't work,
  • be inspired to focus efforts more,
  • we all have an important part to play,
  • learning of the cost-benefit of improved community safety,
  • hear the latest research and evaluation findings,
  • identification of best practice models....
  • increase synergies and foster partnerships, (injury, violence and crime prevention),
  • improve the evidence base,
  • enhance expertise, exchange and transfer knowledge,
  • facilitate partnerships
  • and for practitioners, researchers, community leaders, policy makers and advocates "to join the debates"
YET.... drug policy and all that that means slips, yet again, under the radar.
It is a shame that it costs just shy of 1000 dollars to attend.
Our Drug Intelligence is Criminal and Expensive.
Blair Anderson ‹(•¿•)›
Social Ecologist 'at large'
ph (643) 389 4065 cell 027 265 7219
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