Home > Northwest Regional Drugs Task Force strategic plan 2005-2008.

Fanagan, Sarah (2006) Northwest Regional Drugs Task Force strategic plan 2005-2008. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 19, Autumn 2006, pp. 21-22.

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The first strategic plan of the Northwest Regional Drugs Task Force (NWRDTF), entitled Co-ordinating action around drug and youth alcohol problems, was published in June 2005.1

The NWRDTF was established in 2003 and covers counties Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim and the north western portion of county Cavan.  Development of the plan involved extensive consultation with stakeholders which included one-to-one interviews, a series of group workshops and review sessions.  Background research was also carried out on existing services, drug prevalence and the population distribution of the North West.

The strategic aim of the plan is: ‘to reduce the negative impact of drug misuse and underage drinking upon the individual and society in the region through co-ordinated and targeted actions at regional and local levels.’  The strategic objectives of the plan are grouped under the following headings: awareness; co-ordination; communication; direct actions; and advocacy.

The NWRDTF identified actions based upon the agreement that all actions should be tailored to meet the specific needs of the North West.  These needs are:

·         The population distribution of the region and the need to restructure the group to accommodate the geographical spread.

·         The need to maintain or reduce the low level of drug prevalence in the region.

·         The impact of Northern Ireland (particularly Derry) on the drug culture in the North West.

·         The level of polydrug use among drug users.

·         The level of underage drinking, which has been identified as a significant problem throughout the region.

·         The degree to which the drug culture and underage drinking have become intertwined in recent years.

The action plan drawn up by the NWRDTF is organised according to the four pillars of the National Drugs Strategy and also includes a section on operational actions.  The actions are described in detail, allocated high, medium or low priority and the stakeholders responsible for implementing them are listed.  The table below provides a summary of the high-priority actions.


Operational Actions


·         Recruit NWRDTF Co-ordinator, Development Worker and Administration Support.

·         Take account of operating costs (for example, rent, insurance, and financial and legal fees).

·         Expand membership of NWRDTF and sub-committees to encourage knowledge-based representation.

·         Source external providers with experience in community-based organisations to provide on-going training and support to the NWRDTF and its sub-committees to ensure they operate in an effective manner.

·         Establish and operate county-based and interest-based sub-committees of the NWRDTF. 

·         Promote the NWRDTF as the regional body for co-ordinating all illicit drug and underage drinking initiatives and as the central contact point in the region.

·         Review NWRDTF structures and validate initiatives and programmes.

Supply Reduction


·         Establish a sub-committee with the authority to initiate actions aimed at supply reduction.

·         Support the development of a referral scheme between the Garda Síochána and service providers for underage drinking and drug-related offenders.



·         Provide public training and information sessions for community groups to assist in developing appropriate responses to local problems. 

·         Work closely with communities to identify their concerns and issues relating to illicit drug use and underage drinking and to assist in finding solutions.

·         Establish protocols to co-ordinate inter-agency activities (interventions in schools and communities).

·         Undertake a publicity campaign informing the public and community groups of the role and functions of the NWRDTF.

·         Design and maintain a single website for the NWRDTF, including sub-committees and special interest groups.

·         Initiate a film programme, aimed at transition year students, inviting submissions of films dealing with illicit drug use and underage drinking. 

·         Develop programmes aimed at pubs and night clubs to address the intertwined nature of illicit drug use and underage drinking. 

·         Identify effective methods of communication for individuals and communities responding to illicit drug use and underage drinking at the local level.

·         Develop and publish regionally relevant, local information on illicit drug use and underage drinking.


Treatment and Rehabilitation

·         Publish a North West Region handbook for those affected by illicit drug use and underage drinking, providing:

o        A step-by-step guide to accessing help locally;

o        Contact and service information at local/county level.

·         Help secure funding for programmes aimed at the reduction of illicit drug use and underage drinking.

·         Establish:

o        A small-grant fund to provide funding to evidence-based community and voluntary projects relating to illicit drug use and underage drinking;

o        A Youth Alcohol and Drug Service in Leitrim on a pilot basis;

o        A relapse-prevention programme to equip participants with a range of skills, including assertiveness, problem solving and creativity.

·         Support:

o        The establishment of a urine analysis protocol between the Probation and Welfare Service and HSE NW;

o        An increase in the number of support workers and level of resources available to those working with young people at risk and/or outside mainstream education;

o        Initiatives in the region that will impact on awareness, transmission, treatment and management of blood-borne viruses;

o        The provision of drug and alcohol counsellors to the Courts Service, in partnership with Probation and Welfare;

o        The development of residential and in-patient services (for example, an under-18s alcohol and drug detoxification and treatment facility);

o        The HSE NW in developing a Court Alcohol and Drug Programme in the region dedicated to under-18s.



·         Conduct research into levels of misuse in the North West and provide access to up-to-date information.

·         Work with other agencies to identify more effective means of extracting and recording data on levels of misuse in the North West (for example the Coroners Court and HIPE).


1.    Northwest Regional Drugs Task Force (2005) Co-ordinating action around drug and youth alcohol problems: Strategic Plan 2005–2008. Ballyshannon: Northwest Regional Drugs Task Force.

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