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Pike, Brigid (2011) In brief. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 38, Summer 2011, p. 25.

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On 27 October 2010 the New Zealand Law Commission published its report Compulsory treatment for substance dependence. It concludes that compulsory treatment for alcohol and drug dependence is only justified when a person’s dependence has seriously impaired his or her capacity to make choices about ongoing substance use and personal welfare; care and treatment is necessary to protect the person from significant harm; no other less restrictive means are reasonably available for dealing with the person; the person is likely to benefit from treatment; and the person has refused treatment. The report includes proposals to make the existing law relating to compulsory treatment more user-friendly while also providing greater safeguards for people forced to undergo compulsory treatment.www.lawcom.govt.nz 

On 13 December 2010 the British–Irish Council held its 15th summit meeting, attended by senior political leaders from the eight member administrations, including Ireland. It received an update on the work of the Misuse of Drugs workstream during 2010, which included meetings on the policies of the eight administrations in tackling alcohol misuse, substance misuse in prisons, and headshops, as well as new directions for drug and alcohol policy and community action in dealing with drugs, alcohol and anti-social disorder. In 2011 the group will discuss the new UK National Drugs Strategy. www.gov.je/BritishIrishCouncil
On 24 January 2011 the Children’s Rights Alliance released its third Children’s report card 2011. Alcohol gets an ‘F’ grade again, no change from last year. The assessors comment that although progress had been made in prioritising and intensifying measures to tackle alcohol misuse among young people, and doubling the penalties for all related statutory offences, the focus has been wrong. Greater emphasis is needed on enforcement and implementing evidence-based policy solutions. www.childrensrights.ie
On 21 February 2011 STAR awards, which recognise and celebrate collaborative work undertaken in adult learning initiatives in local communities, were awarded to two drug-related adult learning projects. The School of Applied Social Science in UCD in conjunction with Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI), An Cosan (Tallaght) and Urrus (Ballymun) were the nationwide winners for the Partnership Education Initiative in Drug Prevention Education and Research Capacity, i.e. two diploma programmes provided through local service providers. Soilse, whose participants all come from a drug addiction background, topped the Dublin region for its Service User Involvement (SUI) programme.  Highly commended in the Dublin region was RADE Ltd (Recovery through Art, Drama and Education), which engages recovering drug users in arts activities. www.adultlearnersfestival.com/starawards
On 28 February 2011 the Children’s Rights Alliance published Ten years on: did the National Children’s Strategy deliver on its promises?It reports progress on Action 40 to expand specialist drug treatment for under-18s, although ‘the impact on children’s lives is unknown as impact of funding on services is unclear’. Progress is also reported on Action 78 ‘to provide an adequate emergency response to young homeless people (including day service, education and training, drug treatment)’. However, the supports available and responses to homelessness among children are deemed ‘still patchy and ad hoc across the country’. www.childrensrights.ie
On 23 March 2011 the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the ASSIST package of screening and brief interventions to help health professionals detect and respond to alcohol, tobacco and other psychoactive substance use. It comprises a brief questionnaire, a guide for health professionals on how to use the questionnaire in detecting and responding to substance use and a self-help manual for cutting down or stopping substance use. It is WHO’s response to the growing demand for guidance on how to manage substance use problems in non-specialist health care settings. www.who.int/topics/substance_abuse/en
In April 2011 the results of the first Your Dublin, Your Voice survey were published. An opinion panel of almost 2,300 members has been formed to find out their views on living, working and studying in the city region. The first iteration of the survey was undertaken in October–December 2010. Respondents were asked to describe unprompted and in their own words the worst thing about Dublin. Over 2,200 comments showed a very strong consensus, with over one in three respondents (36%) describing anti-social behaviour (particularly drink and drug-related behaviour, crime and safety issues) as being the worst thing about Dublin. There were over 400 mentions of drugs and drug use in the open responses. An initiative of Dublin City Council, in collaboration with the Dublin Regional Authority and the other Dublin local authorities, panel members will be invited to participate in regular ongoing surveys.

On 3 May 2011 the New Zealand Law Commission published its report Controlling and regulating drugs – a review of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. Among the key proposals contained in the report are (1) a mandatory cautioning scheme for all personal possession and use offences that come to the attention of the police, removing minor drug offenders from the criminal justice system and providing greater opportunities for those in need of treatment to access it; (2) a review of the current drug classification system in order to address inconsistencies and to develop a system  based solely on assessing a drug’s risk of harm, including social harm; and (3) making separate funding available for the treatment of offenders through the justice sector, in order to support courts when they impose rehabilitative sentences to address alcohol and drug dependence problems. www.lawcom.govt.nz
On 4 May 2011 Europol published Organised crime threat assessment 2011 (OCTA), its bi–annual report assessing current and expected trends in organised crime affecting the European Union. It contains eight pages on drugs, including sections on heroin, cocaine, synthetic drugs, cannabis and qat. Drug crime groups are described as becoming increasingly  ‘multi-commodity’ and ‘poly-criminal’, for example, dealing in more than one type of drug, engaging in other criminal activities such as producing counterfeit Euro, co-operating with other groups in sharing loads or bartering drugs for other illicit goods such as stolen property and firearms. The benefits of such diversification include greater resilience in face of drug market fluctuations, less visibility and consequently less risk of detection, and greater profits. www.europol.europa.eu 
Compiled by Brigid Pike
Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Issue Title
Issue 38, Summer 2011
Page Range
p. 25
Health Research Board
Issue 38, Summer 2011
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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