Written Answers. - National Drugs Strategy.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

552 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will make a statement setting out the role of his Department and any board, group or agency under the aegis of his Department, in combating the drugs problem, together with available statistics on the scale of the problem and forecasted figures for the next decade. [8007/01]

My policies in combating the drugs problem are well known: tough legislation backed by strong law enforcement in tandem with an integrated partnership approach to dealing with the interlinked problems of drugs, crime and social disadvantage and while a primary emphasis of the criminal justice agencies operating under the auspices of my Department is on the law enforcement side, nevertheless, they play an appropriate role in the broader issues which arise.

In relation to statistics, seizures of drugs with a combined street value in excess of £120 million were made in 1998 and 1999 and a total of 12,000 persons were prosecuted for drugs offences in those years. More detailed statistics for those years are contained in the Garda Commissioner's annual crime report. Finally, a review of the national drugs strategy is almost complete. The aim of the review is to identify gaps or deficiencies in the current strategy and to develop revised strategies and, if necessary, new structures through which to develop them. This should ensure that current policies and strategies remain relevant to the situation as it exists on the ground. It is expected that the new strategy will be launched in the near future.