Methamphetamine use has fallen in Perth and regional areas including Bunbury, the latest police waste water analysis shows.
The analysis of the water in 2016-2017 financial year released on Monday shows a 26.6 per cent decrease of ice use in in Perth and a whopping 41.1 per cent drop in use of the drug in Bunbury, which previously had the highest rate of meth consumption at sites tested in the state.
Acting Assistant Commissioner Pryce Scanlan, from the State Crime Portfolio, said the results were "promising", but warned there was no cause for celebration or complacency as meth still posed a massive challenge for government and the community.
"The trend downwards in the past three test periods is obviously pleasing, but the sobering reality is WA still has a projected annual meth habit of 1.54 tonnes, with an estimated street value of just over $1.5 billion," he said.
"The results from the most recent analysis in April 2017 were the lowest recorded in Perth, Bunbury and Kalgoorlie since testing at those sites commenced. However we have seen significant fluctuations in the results in the past and there's no guarantee the lower levels of meth use will continue."
Key results from the latest WA police waste water analysis:
- Meth use in WA peaked in September 2016 at all sites tested - to the highest levels since the project started
- Test results from November 2016, February 2017 and April 2017 each showed double digit decreases in meth use in Perth, Bunbury and Kalgoorlie
- For Perth the meth use levels were down 22.6 per cent in November 2016, -23.4 per cent in February 2017 and -10.8 per cent in April 2017
- For Bunbury the meth use levels were down 26.7 per cent in November 2016, -27.1 per cent in February 2017 and -11.8 per cent in April 2017
- Testing commenced in Kalgoorlie in November 2016 and results were down 17.8 per cent in February 2017 and -12.2 per cent in April 2017
- Meth usage in Kalgoorlie in April 2017 was 14.4 per cent higher than in the Bunbury catchment during the same test period
- Testing in Broome commenced in November 2016 and results since then indicate it had the lowest levels of meth use of all the catchments tested
- Spot testing of evaporation ponds carried out in August and October 2016 at 16 remote communities in the Kimberley all returned positive results for meth. The analysis was not able to determine the level of consumption, rather it was used to identify whether or not meth had been used in a given community.
Acting Assistant Commissioner Scanlan said the reasons for the decline in meth use in WA between September 2016 and April 2017 were not easily defined.
"From a policing perspective we have had considerable success, in tandem with our Federal partners, in interrupting supply, and in 2015/16 and 2016/17 we have so far intercepted approximately 890 kilograms of meth headed for our streets," he said.
"It could be that the major trafficking syndicates may not be viewing WA as such a soft target after those losses.
"And the theory that WA's mining boom and the high disposable incomes it created contributed to our high rate of meth use in the past could, if true, be working in reverse with the end of the boom."
Hec said there were also some recent indicators that demand for meth is waning, with the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey survey results released early this month showing Australians are far more aware now of the dangers meth posed than they were three years ago.
The 2016 NDSHS also indicated a national decline in the rate of meth/amphetamine use from 2.1 per cent to 1.4 per cent (no state figures were released at the time).
The decrease in meth detection in WA since September 2016 is mirrored by a corresponding fall in the state's crime rate.
"We know from research that meth use contributes significantly to property crime and offences against a person, hence the importance of maintaining pressure on supply and demand," Acting Assistant Commissioner Scanlan said.
"Whilst the recent decrease in meth use is pleasing, we are still seeing the tragic consequences of this drug in our community, our courts and our health system every day."