In 2009 John Key personally declared a “War on P”:
My message to the gangs is clear. This Government is coming after your business and we will use every tool we have to destroy it. We will be ruthless in our pursuit of you and the evil drug you push.
The move was gushingly reported by his adoring fans, Key was to be the “nemesis of P” no less. It was also questioned by many with a passing knowledge of the history of various “wars” on drugs. At the time I wrote:
It seems that Key has failed to learn from history, and thus is doomed to repeat it. He is talking tough instead of exploring the evidence and the alternatives. He has now very personally identified himself with this “war”, as he did with the reform of Auckland governance. These are issues against which the success or failure of his leadership will be judged.
Despite Key’s occasional claims to be winning the war, various reports over the years have highlighted a lack of progress. But now the final report card is in and it’s apparent that the failure of the war is complete:
P trade impervious to crackdown, say police
Intelligence report warns hard line hasn’t made a dent in local P market.
Increased efforts by the Government and law enforcement to tackle the country’s methamphetamine problem have failed to dent the drug trade, according to a classified police report.
The price, purity and availability of the Class A drug have remained relatively stable since new legislation was announced in 2009 – including a ban on medicines containing pseudoephedrine – following a Herald series called the War on P. …
“Despite the increased focus across Government, law enforcement and industry to minimise methamphetamine related harms, there does not seem to be a discernible change in the drug’s domestic popularity and availability,” according to the National Strategic Assessment paper. …
The mean price of a gram of methamphetamine increased from $600 in 2007 to $800 in 2011, but went down to $685 last year. The mean price of a point (0.1g) remains relatively stable at $100.
The current perceived availability of methamphetamine remains easy/very easy. Almost all police reporting suggests that methamphetamine remains widely and easily available.
So there it is. Key foolishly claimed the “War on P” as his own, and (predictably) he failed. In this, as it seems in everything else (magical tax cuts, bootcamps, jobs summit, roaring out of recession, stopping the exodus), John Key is all promise, no deliver.