asked the Minister for Justice how many young people have been placed under the junior liaison officer scheme as a result of offences involving drugs; and what special qualifications or training these officers have for dealing with such people.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Drugs Offences.
The answer is none, so far.
Juvenile liaison officers are members of the Garda Síochána. They have not, and do not claim to have any special qualifications in relation to drug addiction. The treatment of drug addiction is a matter for qualified medical practitioners and the Garda Síochána could not undertake to make such treatment available for an addict just because he happens to come into conflict with the law. They would, if the occasion arose, advise a young offender who otherwise qualified for admission to the juvenile liaison scheme as to how he could seek medical treatment.
asked the Minister for Justice how many cases involving drugs have been heard in the Dublin courts for the six months period ended 28th February, 1969; how many people were involved; and what medical or specialised advice was available to justices on the treatment of people convicted of drug taking.
The number of cases in which proceedings were brought was 25 and the number of persons involved was 31. I would point out, however, that an offence involving drugs does not necessarily mean that the offender is himself a drug addict or that he has used drugs. It may be an offence of stealing drugs or peddling them and roughly half the cases mentioned were of this kind.
Even if the accused person does require treatment for drug addiction this is not a function of the courts and, if drug addiction were adduced as an extenuating factor in a criminal case, the onus of satisfying the court on that point is primarily on the defendant. If, however, the court decides, on its own initiative, that it requires a medical report to enable it to discharge its functions in the administration of justice, it may adjourn the case for a medical report, and this has happened on some occasions.
Has the Minister's attention been drawn to recent incidents of raids by a juvenile on the pharmacies of public hospitals in the city and have the police authorities consulted with the public hospital authorities with a view to reducing the accessibility of stores of this category of drugs so as to deter attempts to obtain supplies in this way?
I think that is being done.