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Funding call for controversial gang drug rehab programme

Published: 7:04PM Saturday November 24, 2012 Source: ONE News

A controversial drug detox programme for gang members has completed its four year trial claiming success.

The eight-week residential programme, run by the Salvation Army and the Mongrel Mob, is now up for evaluation by the Ministry of Health, but its backers are already calling for more funding, saying it saves lives.

Gang members are educated about the dangers of methampetamine, or P, and helped come off the drug.

TV ONE's Marae Investigates programme  was given exclusive access to the final camp, where reporter Tahuri Tumoana , spoke to some of those graduating.

"It's very serious because it kills people, it breaks up families, it destroys our families, it's an epidemic," said Notorious Mongrel Mob member, Willie Clark.

Programme graduate, David Huriwai, said: "They're dropping like flies out there, our people, the Mongrel Mob, and for this to be put in place it's saved a few lives."

The key to this innovative collaboration between the Mongrel Mob and the Salvation Army is the reliance on Maori tikanga and the involvment of whanau who stay on camp, Tumoana said.

At their graduation, the former P addicts said they are not only only clean, but looking to a new future.

"I usually got arrested three to five times a year for the last 17 years. In the last 12 months I haven't been arrested once, and haven't gone to jail," said one member in a graduation speech.

However, the irony of a gang running a detox programme for its member is not lost on those attending.

"Yeah, that's ironic, but if they don't get off them and get on another track they're always going to be in prison and incarcerated," said Clark.

Captain Gerry Walker, from the Salvation Army Addiction Services, said: "These folks are here because they don't want their children and their grandchildren following them. So if we want to break the cycle, this is an example of doing that."

But whether any more members will be able to complete the rehab programme will depend on Government funding.

Marae Investigates will have an indepth report on the gang detox programme tomorrow morning at 10am on TV ONE.