Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Questions (336)

Martin Browne

Question:

336. Deputy Martin Browne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the additional supports in place for communities affected by the increasing intimidation from drug dealers that has coincided with the welcome significant increase in drugs seizures in County Tipperary; if a plan is in place to provide increased addiction treatment services in line with the increased Garda resources; and his views on the lack of co-ordination between the policing and addiction services sides of drug policy. [12367/20]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Department of Health leads on Government policy in this area is guided by the national drugs strategy "Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery - a health led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017-2025".

This represents a whole-of-Government response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland. Implementation of the Strategy is led by my colleague, the Minister for Health and the Minister of State with special responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy and Health Promotion, although the Strategy of course includes actions for all stakeholders, including my Department and An Garda Síochána.

Drug-related intimidation involves the targeting of persons who use drugs, or their family or friends in relation to a drug debt. I appreciate that the threat of violence to enforce drug debt impacts people's lives greatly and can create an atmosphere of fear within communities. I am acutely aware of the importance of tackling such behaviour effectively, where-ever it occurs.

The National Drugs Strategy includes consideration of drug-related intimidation and it is unique among national drug strategies across EU member states in that regard.

An Garda Síochána, in partnership with the National Family Support Network (NFSN), has developed ‘The Drug Related Intimidation Reporting Programme’, which is now been implemented on a national level since 2013, to respond to the needs of drug users and family members who may be subject to the threat of drug related intimidation. I am informed that An Garda Síochána and the National Family Support Network have each concluded their own separate evaluations of the Drug Related Intimidation Reporting Programme and have jointly agreed a number of actions in relation to the programme going forward. It has been agreed that the effectiveness of this Programme will be further enhanced through training, knowledge sharing and awareness raising.

Addiction services are outside my remit as Minister for Justice and Equality and information in that regard would better be requested from the Department of Health.