The number of backyard drug labs being used to ‘cook up’ illicit drugs or their precursors is on the rise in Australia. For 2009/10, Australian Crime Commission figures show that about 600 clandestine laboratories, or clan labs, were detected across the country, up from 449 in the previous year.
The majority of clan labs are found in residential areas and it’s not uncommon for them to be set up by tenants in rental properties.
In April this year the Federal Government launched the Clandestine to provide a step-by-step process to determine whether a site is contaminated, and assist in the remediation of contaminated sites.
Launching the guidelines, Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, the Hon Brendan O’Connor MP, said the damage caused by illicit drugs doesn’t stop with the arrest of a perpetrator.
“Deadly chemicals are used to make illegal drugs and even after drug making equipment is removed, unstable and dangerous substances can remain,” said Mr O’Connor.
“The residue of drug manufacturing can pose risks for many years. That includes potential health and safety problems for neighbours and new residents, including children.”
For landlords and property managers it is important to know that, when a clan lab is found, Police will dismantle and remove chemicals and equipment, but it is the property owner’s responsibility to clean up any residues which have been left behind.
EBM’s RentCover General Manager, Sharon Fox-Slater, welcomed the new national guidelines.“If a property manager doesn’t get clean up attended to in the proper way, it can have a disastrous outcome, and can also lead to professional indemnity issues,” she explained.
“For example, if a new tenant moves in to the property with a toddler and the toddler licks a wall which has chemicals on it, the effects could be very dangerous, and even fatal.
“These guidelines give landlords and property managers the comfort of a step-by-step process to follow to make sure the property is returned to a safe, fit state for habitation.”
Everyone can do their bit to help rid our community of illegal drugs by reporting suspicious activity to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
- Media statement: National action to clean up illegal drug labs; Minister for Home Affairs and Justice The Hon Brendan O’Connor MP and Queensland Minister for Police, Corrective Services; Emergency Services The Hon Neil Roberts MP
- Australian Crime Commission – Illicit Drug Data Report 2009-10