Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 319 - Drug abuse [Heroin & crime] [27110/09].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 319 - Drug abuse [Heroin & crime] [27110/09]. (07 Jul 2009)

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319. Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the extent to which heroin use is a factor in crime here; his policy regarding heroin use and addiction treatment; the additional measures being taken to tackle heroin related crime; the statistics he has in relation to heroin use and under-age heroin use here including in South Tipperary. [27110/09]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Deputy Dermot Ahern): While it is not possible to estimate the overall extent to which heroin use is a factor in crime, what is clear from available studies and research is that the provision of drug treatment in general substantially reduces drug use and related involvement in crime. The recently published Rosie Study by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (available at www.nacd.ie) which measured drug treatment outcomes demonstrates this clearly in the Irish context.

Overall the Government’s approach to tackling the problem of drug misuse, including heroin use, is through a co-ordinated and integrated approach under our National Drugs Strategy which tackles the issue under pillar headings of drugs supply reduction, education and prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and research. This Department’s involvement is primarily (although not solely) concerned with the drug supply reduction pillar.

With regard to measures in place to tackle drug crime, An Garda Síochána undertakes a number of multi-agency actions designed to target the activities of criminal organisations involved in the sale and supply of illicit drugs, including: conducting targeted operations against individual and organisation operating within this jurisdiction with known links to international criminals, including Irish nationals based abroad; continued co-operation with the Revenue Commissioners (Customs Service) under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding in the proactive investigation of persons suspected of being involved in international drug-trafficking; exchanging strategic and operational intelligence with other law enforcement agencies, including Interpol and Europol, in accordance with legislation and operational protocols; and assisting international law enforcement agencies who are conducting investigations with suspected involvement by Irish nationals, through the Mutual Assistance Agreement in criminal matters.

As the Deputy will appreciate, the provision of addiction treatment is a matter for the Department of Health and Children and the Health Services Executive. I am advised that there are no up-to-date statistics on heroin use in the population. A special capture recapture study done in 2002 provided an estimate of 14,500 heroin users. A similar type study is currently underway under the auspices of the National Advisory Committee on Drugs. Nationally there were 8,794 clients on the Central Treatment List for methadone maintenance at the end of March 2009. I am advised that eleven of these clients were registered on the Central Treatment List with addresses in the South Tipperary /Local Health Office Area. I am informed that there were no under 18’s on methadone maintenance treatment or awaiting methadone maintenance treatment during the above periods.

Vol. 687 No. 3
Written Answers  -  Drug Abuse
Tuesday, 7 July 2009

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