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Pike, Brigid (2010) In brief. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 32, Winter 2009, p. 27.

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On 26 June 2009 the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy (ISSDP) published a selection of papers from its second annual conference, held in Lisbon in March 2008, in the International Journal of Drug Policy (Volume 20/6). The guest editors (Henri Bergeron and Peter Reuter) suggest that after a period of relative stability in the 1990s, drug policy now appears to be in a state of flux, particularly in Europe. Whereas the ultimate goal of previous legislation and policy was to save users from themselves, there seems to be a shift towards policies that seek to protect communities, society and public order.

Increased controls on rave parties, legislation against drugs and driving, and the development of drug testing are examples; the authors note that such initiatives have been particularly prominent in Ireland, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Belgium. They note the same tendency in policies regarding alcohol consumption. While they observe that treatment and harm reduction policies still seek to minimise the adverse consequences of use for drug users and to care for drug users, greater attention is being given to public health concerns, as evidenced by the growing adoption of epidemiological and risk reasoning to analyse drug issues – a reasoning that reframes drug use in terms of epidemics that should be controlled as a threat to the public health of communities and society.
 
The authors associate this increasing focus on negative consequences for communities and society, rather than on harm to the individual, with growing activism by civil society groups. Individuals tend now to group and call on the state to handle the collective negative consequences of drug use, such as the gathering of drug users in their neighbourhood, syringes in the streets and playgrounds, and dealing in the street. The authors suggest that a new actor – the ‘victim’, the one experiencing drug-use-related troubles, as opposed to the user – may be appearing in the drug policy arena and influencing policy decisions. www.ihra.net / www.issdp.org 
 
In June 2009 Crosscare's Drug & Alcohol Programme (DAP) launched a website listing counsellors' contact details. The purpose is to provide a national online database of fully-qualified and accredited counsellors/psychotherapists and professional counselling centres operating in Ireland.
 
On 10 July 2009 the Alcohol Marketing Communications Monitoring Body (AMCMB) published its third annual report.It concludes that there had been overall compliance in 2008 with the Voluntary Codes to limit the exposure of young people to alcohol advertising. http://health.gov.ie/
 
On 2 September 2009 the National Office for Suicide Prevention published its 2008 annual report. Among other matters, it reports on prevention activities that focus on substance awareness.
 
On 10 September 2009 the Mental Health Commission (MHC) published the Report of the Joint Working Group on mental health services and the police 2009. The authors state that a considerable proportion of social crises in the community are of a psychiatric nature, involving both adults and children, and are often connected not just with mental illness but with a range of other social factors, including alcohol and drug abuse. They recommend the urgent implementation of national policy in relation to the document Vision for Change and the Primary Care Strategy; the creation of a 24-hour, 7-day a week statutory social work service; expanding training for the Garda Síochána on community and social services; joint protocols between the mental health services and the Garda Síochána, and involving users and carers in the drawing up of these protocols; a feasibility study on jointly-staffed crisis intervention teams, made up of mental health personnel and members of the Garda Síochána; and court diversion programmes for dealing with minor criminal matters involving individuals with mental health problems. www.mhcirl.ie
 
On 24 and 25 September 2009 the European Society for Social Drug Research (ESSD) held its 20th conference in Belfast. Conference themes included drug policy, trends and patterns in drug use, drug markets, drug-using lifestyles, theories and concepts, and methodological perspectives in drug research. www.essd-research.eu.

On 10 October 2009 the renewed Programme for Government was released. Alcohol and drugs are mentioned three times under the heading A More Caring and Just Society: ‘We will introduce stricter requirements for labelling of alcohol products … We will implement the new Drugs Strategy … We will continue to target Garda actions within communities experiencing significant anti-social behaviour and drug crime.’ www.taoiseach.ie
 
On 15 October 2009 a Community Cashback Fund of £4 million was launched as a pilot scheme by the UK’s Home Office. Using cash and assets seized from criminals, the fund gives local people a direct say in how criminal assets are spent. More than 45,000 votes were received from members of the public for 1,225 community projects via a dedicated website, and through neighbourhood policing meetings and citizens’ panels; 269 projects have been allocated funding for 2009/10.
 
On 28 October 2009 Issues to Consider before Reforming California State Law regarding Marijuana were presented by Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, Co-Director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center (DPRC), before the California State Assembly Public Safety Committee. An economist, Pacula argues that California has insufficient information to decide on the matter and that it should conduct a full cost-benefit analysis. She explores the challenges and identified the important factors to consider in constructing a realistic cost-benefit calculation of the legalisation of marijuana. www.rand.org/multi/dprc
 
In October 2009 the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published Communities in recession: the reality in four neighbourhoods. It describes the circumstances of disadvantaged people and communities in four areas in England and Wales during the recession, as observed in July 2009. Author Karen Day concludes, ‘… the current debate over the official end of the recession is premature. All the political parties have acknowledged the inevitable future reduction in public services, fuelled by higher public borrowing and a decrease in tax receipts. But what hasn’t been recognised is the potential impact these cuts may have, triggering a second recession unique to deprived communities. Many of these places are dependent on public services – from free school buses to drug outreach services, even police community support officers – to cushion their community infrastructure. In the rush to proclaim the end of the economic downturn, these places could be overlooked just as these cuts start to bite, pulling them further into poverty and widening the gap in inequalities even more.’ www.jrf.org.uk
Item Type
Article
Publication Type
Irish-related, International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Issue Title
Issue 32, Winter 2009
Date
18 January 2010
Page Range
p. 27
Publisher
Health Research Board
Volume
Issue 32, Winter 2009
EndNote
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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