Thursday, 10 September 2020

Ceisteanna (52)

Ruairí Ó Murchú

Ceist:

52. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for Justice her views on the serious issue of drug-related intimidation and reporting in County Louth. [22993/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I can assure the Deputy that proactively tackling all forms of drug crime is a priority for An Garda Síochána. The Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) is having significant success in disrupting drug trafficking and the supply of illicit drugs by organised crime groups. Its work is supported by Divisional Drugs Units nationwide, and by all Gardaí working in local communities. It also works closely and productively with international law enforcement partners.

The Deputy will be familiar with the National Drugs Strategy, "Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery - a health led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017-2025 ". The Strategy is unique among national drugs strategies across EU Member States in recognising the need to address drug-related debt intimidation at a community level.

The Strategy includes an action (4.1.42) which specifically relates to strengthening the effectiveness of the Drug-Related Intimidation Reporting Programme. The programme, which was developed by An Garda Síochána in partnership with the National Family Support Network (NFSN) to respond to the needs of drug users and family members who may be subject to the threat of drug related intimidation, has been implemented on a national level since 2013.

Funding for the programme is provided by the Department of Health via the Family Support Networks / Drugs Task Forces. My Department continues to support An Garda Síochána and Department of Health in relation to public information about the programme.

An Garda Síochána regard drug-related intimidation as a hugely serious issue which impacts significantly on communities throughout Ireland. An Garda Síochána advise people to seek help and support from their local Gardaí even where a person has felt compelled to pay money to those who engage in drug related intimidation.

Cases are dealt with in a confidential and secure manner and, insofar as is possible, An Garda Síochána provides practical personal security and safety information and advice in relation to particular threats or instances of intimidation, along with information on appropriate drug support services for any member of a family who is accruing drug debts, while also providing information regarding the process involved in making a formal complaint relating to alleged intimidation.

In line with the Strategy, the GNDOCB has briefed senior Garda managers throughout the country in relation to the most effective handling of suspected incidents of drug-related intimidation and, in particular, the potential role of the programme in this regard.

Seminars are delivered by the GNDOCB and the NFSN to the Garda Inspectors assigned in each division to ensure appropriate implementation of the programme. Attendees at these seminars also include members of Drugs & Alcohol Task Forces as well as Gardaí in local drugs units.

Awareness of the programme is also promoted to all Gardaí and regional management through the GNDOCB and - with the assistance of the NFSN, relevant agencies, Regional and Local Drug & Alcohol Task Forces and community groups - in communities throughout the country.

Information in relation to the Drug Related Intimidation Reporting Programme and a list of the nominated Inspectors countrywide is available on the Garda Síochána Website, www.garda.ie, the National Family Support Network website and the www.Drugs.ie website.