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Connolly, Johnny (2005) Legal briefing. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 16, Winter 2005 , pp. 15-16.

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This legal briefing reviews some of the significant drug-related legislative initiatives introduced during 2005.

The Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2005 makes further provision in relation to the recovery and disposal of proceeds of crime and, for that purpose, amends the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996, the Criminal Assets Bureau Act 1996, the Criminal Justice Act 1994 and the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act 2001.  While the new Act does not make specific reference to drugs, proceeds of crime legislation has been directed against those involved in organised crime involving drug trafficking. The Act also allows proof of criminality to include criminality outside the State.

Section 28 of the Maritime Safety Act 2005 introduces prohibitions on the operation of vessels in Irish waters while under the influence of alcohol or drugs to such an extent as to be incapable of properly controlling or operating the vessel. Section 29 entitles the person in command of a vessel to refuse permission to board to a person who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs to such an extent that they misconduct themselves or cause offence or annoyance to persons on the vessel. Section 31 introduces controls and penalties in relation to the consumption of alcohol or drugs on board vessels.

Section 13 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 provides for drug testing in the workplace. The legislation obliges the employee to ensure that he or she is not under the influence of an intoxicant to the extent that he or she is in such a state as to endanger his or her own safety, health or welfare at work or that of any other person. Also, if reasonably required by his or her employer, the employee must submit to any appropriate, reasonable and proportionate tests, by or under the supervision of a registered medical practitioner who is a competent person, as may be prescribed. An employer may require an employee to undergo an assessment by a registered medical practitioner, nominated by the employer, of his or her fitness to perform work activities. Regulations have not yet been finalised. The National Advisory Committee on Drugs has commissioned research to assist in the preparation of the necessary regulations. This research is to consider such issues as:

·         information on drug impairment in the workplace

·         right to privacy on health issues in the workplace

·         information on substance use in the workplace

·         literature search on drug testing issues in the workplace.

 

The Garda Síochána Act 2005was passed into law in July 2005. In March 2005, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women’s Rights conducted a review of community policing in Ireland1 in light of proposals contained in Chapter 4 of the Garda Síochána Bill 2004 to establish new local policing structures. Many of the recommendations of the Joint Committee have been incorporated into the Act.

An important amendment to the Garda Bill has been the inclusion of the Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs with responsibility for national drugs strategy in the preparation of guidelines concerning the establishment and maintenance of joint policing committees (JPCs) by local authorities and the Garda Commissioner. The Act also provides for the inclusion on the JPCs of ‘persons representing local community interests’. Another important tier in the new local policing structures is the establishment of local policing fora. The Act provides for the establishment of such fora by JPCs in consultation with the local Garda superintendent ‘as the committee considers necessary’. The steering group which oversaw the mid-term review of the National Drugs Strategy highlighted concerns raised during its consultation process about the pace at which community policing fora were developing in drugs task force areas. In light of these concerns, and of developments with regard to the Garda Síochána Act 2005, a new action has been incorporated into the Strategy: ‘Taking into account the provisions of the Garda Síochána Bill 2004 (now enacted as of June 2005), Community Policing Fora should be extended to all Local Drugs Task Force areas and to other areas experiencing problems of drug misuse.’ A committee is currently preparing guidelines for the establishment and maintenance of the JPCs.

The Irish Medicines Board (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2005 provides for a number of amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, including:

·         provisions to extend the powers available to the Minister to give a direction, following a conviction for an offence under the Misuse of Drugs Acts or the Customs Acts, prohibiting bodies corporate involved in the practice of community pharmacy, and their officials, from having such controlled drugs as may be specified

·         provisions to enable the Irish Medicines Board to issue licences and permits in respect of controlled drugs for various purposes

·         provisions to limit the prohibition of the cultivation of poppies to poppies that are cultivated for the production of opium.

A number of amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill 2004 are being proposed by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The Bill is currently being considered by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women’s Rights. Among the proposed amendments are:

·         provisions for creating criminal offences in relation to participation in criminal organisations

·         proposals to strengthen the provisions on the imposition of the 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for drug trafficking

·         new offences of supplying drugs to prisoners

·         provisions in relation to a Drug Offenders Register

·         new provisions to deal with anti-social behaviour such as anti-social behaviour orders

·         provisions to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 10 years.

Other legal developments

Action 27 of the National Drugs Strategy 2001–2008 obliges the Garda Síochána, the Health Boards and vintner representative bodies to ‘prepare guidelines… for publicans and night-club owners regarding drug dealing on, or in the vicinity of, their premises. These guidelines should set out clearly the actions which the owner of the premises should take in response to drug dealing…’ In June 2005 an information booklet, entitled Guidelines regarding drug dealing on or in the vicinity of licensed premises,2 was launched with the aim of addressing Action 27. The guidelines were drawn up by the Garda Síochána, with the co-operation of the Licensed Vintners Association, the Irish Nightclub Industry Association, the Vintners Federation of Ireland, the Department of Health and Children and the Irish Hotels Federation. The guidelines cover such matters as the law in relation to drug issues, the legal conditions and appropriate procedures for the conducting of searches of persons entering premises, signs of drug misuse by customers, what to do if drugs are found, first aid, and the monitoring of queues. 

1. Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights (2005) Report on Community Policing, April 2005.Dublin: Stationery Office.

2. An Garda Síochána and others (2005) Guidelines regarding drug dealing on or in the vicinity of licensed premises. Dublin: An Garda Síochána.

Item Type:Article
Issue Title:Issue 16, Winter 2005
Date:October 2005
Page Range:pp. 15-16
Publisher:Health Research Board
Volume:Issue 16, Winter 2005
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Available)
Subjects:VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland
MM-MO Crime and law > Substance use laws

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