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Pike, Brigid (2011) In brief. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 36, Winter 2010, p. 27.

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On 20 July 2010 the Victims charter and guide to the criminal justice system was launched. It sets out the service victims in Ireland can expect from 10 state agencies in the criminal justice area and from one of the voluntary organisations that has contact with victims. The Irish Prison Service’s victim charter states: ‘In order to prevent prisoners from re-offending when they get out of prison, we aim to rehabilitate all offenders. Rehabilitation services treat and address issues such as offending behaviour, drug and alcohol addiction, lack of education and training, anger management and self-management. This encourages the personal development of prisoners and prepares them for their release when they will have to resettle into the community.’  

In October 2010 the annual report of the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health,Anand Grover, was submitted to the UN General Assembly (A/65/255).[1] In the report, Mr Grover wrote: ‘People who use drugs may be deterred from accessing services owing to the threat of criminal punishment, or may be denied access to health care altogether. Criminalization and excessive law enforcement practices also undermine health promotion initiatives, perpetuate stigma and increase health risks to which entire populations – not only those who use drugs – may be exposed.’ He continued, ‘The primary goal of the international drug control regime, as set forth in the preamble of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961), is the “health and welfare of mankind”, but the current approach to controlling drug use and possession works against that aim. Widespread implementation of interventions that reduce harms associated with drug use – harm-reduction initiatives – and of decriminalization of certain laws governing drug control would improve the health and welfare of people who use drugs and the general population demonstrably.’
On 5 November 2010 Prison staff and harm reduction was launched at the second meetingof the Health Promotion of Young Prisoners(HPYP) project, hosted by the EMCDDA. This training manual is the main output of an EU-funded project, ‘Training criminal justice professionals (TCJP) in harm reduction services for vulnerable groups’. As well as a section on harm reduction, the training package includes modules on infectious diseases, mental health and working with women prisoners.

On 16 November 2010 the Simon Community held a discussion on The way home,the national Homeless Strategy,with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children. Niamh Randall, Simon’s national research policy manager, stated: ‘We need improved access to health care for those [homeless people] who have many related needs. Drug and alcohol services must be extended all around the country. This includes detoxification, rehabilitation and harm reduction services. It is essential to maintain existing specialist services and to expand those into the areas where they are needed.’ /
In November 2010 the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre (IRC) published The children left behind. Ninth in a series of report cards, the study presents an overview of inequalities in child well-being in 24 OECD countries, including Ireland. It gauges inequality by focusing on the relative gap between children in the bottom of the distribution with those occupying the median. Three dimensions of well-being were examined: material, education, and health. Overall, Ireland was ranked among the top third of countries in terms of how well it attends to its children.
On 1 December 2010, World AIDS Day, two international agencies published documents highlighting the risks of injecting drug users contracting the AIDS virus and calling for a stronger focus on harm reduction measures.
·         International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched Out of harm’s way: injecting drug users and harm reduction. A central message of the report is the importance of prioritising harm reduction over the criminalisation of drug use – because ‘it works and is a human-rights based approach’.
·         European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) launched new guidelines for HIV testing among injecting drug users. The guidelines propose a series of standard tests to be undertaken regularly on a voluntary and informed basis. They also offer a package of prevention, primary care and referral routines in relation to IDUs and infections.
On 8 December 2010 Drug strategy 2010:Reducing demand, restricting supply, building recovery: supporting people to live a drug-free life was launched by Britain’s coalition government. Innovations include: (1) greater emphasis on recovery as an achievable strategic outcome, in addition to harm reduction; (2) all drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, are considered; (3) severe alcohol dependency is also addressed, as it is recognised that it raises similar issues and that treatment providers are often one and the same; and (4) new implementing structures are proposed in order to shift power and accountability from the national to the local level.
On 17 December 2010 the UK Drug Policy Commission published Getting serious about stigma: the problem with stigmatising drug users. It reports on a wide-ranging research project looking at the extent and nature of stigmatisation of current and former drug users and their families. The research shows that people with a history of drug problems are heavily stigmatised and are seen as both blameworthy and to be feared. As a result they are subject to exclusion and discrimination in many areas. The UKDPC argues that stigmatisation of people with drug problems has serious consequences for government policy: policies seeking greater reintegration and recovery and moving people from benefits into work will not succeed while stigmatising attitudes are pervasive and, as a result, drug problems will remain entrenched rather than overcome. Experience from other fields, such as mental health, shows that stigma can be reduced and the report suggests key areas for action.

[1]Special rapporteurs are independent experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The position is honorary and the expert is not a staff member of the UN nor paid for his/her work. He/she expresses his/her view in an independent capacity.


Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Issue Title
Issue 36, Winter 2010
Page Range
p. 27
Health Research Board
Issue 36, Winter 2010
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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