Australian police forensic chemists will receive funding of $200,000 over the next four years under the National Strategy to Prevent the Diversion of Precursor Chemicals to assist with the investigation of clandestine laboratory operations the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, announced today.
Senator Ellison announced the funding following the sixth bi-annual meeting of the National Working Group on the Diversion of Precursor Chemicals. Senator Ellison said that this would assist forensic experts who specialise in the investigation of clandestine drug laboratories.
"Clandestine amphetamine laboratories have increased by 300 per cent and it is important that forensic experts have the opportunity to work together in what is one of the most important areas in the fight against illegal drugs," Senator Ellison said.
The National Working Group was established by the Minister in 2002 and is attended by police and health officials from all states and territories and representatives of the chemicals and pharmaceutical industries.
The diversion of precursor chemicals is a key factor in the production of illicit drugs in backyard laboratories.
Senator Ellison said the funding would be directed to three initiatives, each of which provide opportunities for Australia's forensic chemists to improve their knowledge and assist the development of forensic investigator expertise generally.
"The funding will be directed towards sending a forensic scientist to a key international conference annually, developing a National Clan Lab Chemist and Investigators Workshop to enhance the domestic capabilities of clan lab chemists and investigators and developing an education program for junior chemists," Senator Ellison said.
"These initiatives will ensure that Australia remains at the forefront of cutting edge technologies, knowledge and training for this industry."
Senator Ellison said that participation in the international conference, and the establishment of local workshops and training programs, will strengthen the knowledge base of investigative chemists in Australia, and ensure that junior chemists are equipped to operate effectively in this highly specialised area into the next generation.
"These important initiatives show that the Australian Government will not rest in ensuring that Australians are protected against the scourge of illicit drugs in our community," Senator Ellison said.