Written Answers. - Drug Task Forces.

Seán Haughey


957 Mr. Haughey asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation the action he is taking to prevent drug abuse with particular reference to the drug task forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19190/00]

Local drugs task forces have been set up in 14 areas, the vast majority in the Dublin area, where heroin abuse is the primary concern. The task forces bring together key State agencies to work with local elected representatives and community and voluntary groups in the target areas in developing appropriate responses to the local drug problem.

The task forces prepared action plans in 1997 and the Government approved £10 million funding, over and above that already available to State agencies, to support the implementation of the measures set out in these plans. Over 200 projects were supported to deliver a range of interventions under the themes of prevention, education, treatment, rehabilitation and supply reduction.

All of the projects are to be independently evaluated with a view to mainstreaming those which are considered to be achieving their aims and objectives. In this context, mainstreaming means that the projects will continue to be funded through a relevant State agency, in line with agreed procedures which protect their ethos. Decisions on mainstreaming are due before year end.

The Government has now allocated a further £15 million to enable the task forces to prepare new updated plans. To date, three such plans have been submitted to the National Drugs Strategy Team for assessment and it is anticipated that the remainder will be submitted in the current year.
As part of the Government's National Drugs Strategy, the young people's facilities and services fund was established in 1998 to assist in the development of preventative strategies/initiatives in a targeted manner through the development of youth facilities, including sport and recreational facilities, and services in disadvantaged areas where a significant drug problem exists or has the potential to develop. The objective of the fund is to attract young people at risk in disadvantaged areas into these facilities and activities and divert them away from the dangers of substance abuse.
The main focus of the fund has been on the local drugs task force areas and funding of over £26 million has now been approved to support over 295 projects contained in plans emanating from these areas.