Monday December 12 2011
– Police plan to crack down on parent who set up drug factories in the home by testing their children’s hair for chemical exposure.
Investigators say they are fed up with finding children whose lives have been put at risk by living near poisonous and potentially explosive secret laboratories.
Four children were living at the property of the man pictured holding an imitation gun. The methyl-amphetamine lab was in an unlocked shed, metres away from where they play on a trampoline.
Now, if a hair test shows a child has been exposed to dangerous chemicals, police are determined to prosecute the parents.
Police don’t have the right to take a hair sample from a child without a parent or guardian’s consent – unlikely in cases where the parent is a suspect.
But an order might be granted if a child were placed in the custody of the Department of Human Services.
Detectives have previously found it hard to prove children were being exposed to the methyl-amphetamine manufacturing process.
But Senior-Sergeant Mark Burnett, a detective in the clandestine laboratory squad, said that hair sampling could reveal the length and degree of chemical exposure.
He said the dangers of drug labs to children were enormous, and police would look at charging parents with reckless conduct endangering their children’s lives or putting them at risk of injury.
Children’s natural curiosity also made them vulnerable to swallowing chemicals from bottles and jars, he said.
Senior-Sergeant Burnett said there was also concern over the disposal of drug-making equipment and waste.
Contaminated equipment had been dumped in places such as parks, and toxic waste had been poured down drains or in public areas.
The police clandestine laboratory squad has closed down 74 drug factories in Victoria this year. Most were in homes but others were found in cars, hotels and business premises – Mark Buttler