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Pike, Brigid and Scally, Susan (2014) Supporting local efforts to tackle drug problems. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 49, Spring 2014, pp. 4-5.

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 On 23 January 2014 the new National Co-ordinating Committee for Drug and Alcohol Task Forces (NCC) held its inaugural meeting.  Its purpose is to guide the work of the task forces and drive implementation of the National Drugs Strategy 2009–2016 (NDS) locally. It is the successor to the Drugs Advisory Group, established under the NDS,1 and to the National Drugs Strategy Team, which was incorporated in the 2001–2008 national drugs strategy.  

The following account is based on a presentation given by Susan Scally, head of the Drugs Policy Unit in the Department of Health, at the half-day conference on Ireland’s National Drugs Strategy (NDS), which is described elsewhere in this issue of Drugnet Ireland. 3
Terms of reference for the NCC
-          drive implementation of the NDS at local and regional level,
-          oversee, monitor and support the work of the task forces and to ensure that policy on drugs is informed by their work,
-          monitor implementation of NDS actions specific to drug and alcohol task forces,
-          monitor the expenditure and activities of the task forces and of drugs projects in their areas, and
-          make recommendations to the minister in relation to the implementation of the NDS and effective co-ordination of service delivery at local and regional level.
Membership of the NCC
-          Statutory sector:Department of Health, HSE, An Garda Síochána, Justice, Equality and Defence, Revenue Customs Service, Children and Youth Affairs, Education and Skills, Environment, Social Protection, Community and Local Government, Local Government Management Agency, Probation Service, Education and Training Boards
-          Community sector: two representatives
-          Voluntary sector: two representatives
-          LDTF Chairs Network : two representatives
-          LDTF Co-ordinators Network: two representatives
-          RDTF Chairs Network:  two representatives
-          RDTF Co-ordinators Network :two representatives
Role of NCC in supporting local efforts to tackle the drug problem
-          brings together local and regional drugs task forces, key government departments and agencies and the community and voluntary sector,
-          roles and responsibilities of members clearly set out to encourage optimum participation,
-          strengthened accountability and feedback mechanisms,
-          opportunities for sharing best practice, and
-          more outcomes focused.
New terms of reference for task forces
-          implement the NDS in the context of the needs of the region/local area,
-          support and strengthen community-based responses to drug misuse,
-          maintain an up-to-date overview on the nature and extent of drug misuse in the area/region,
-          identify and report on emerging issues and the development of proposals on policies or actions needed to address them,
-          promote the implementation of local/regional drug strategies, and
-          monitor, evaluate and assess the impact of the funded projects and their continued relevance to the local/regional drugs task force strategy and to recommend changes to the funding allocations as deemed necessary.
NCC support for task forces in change process will include
-          adoption of their new terms of reference,
-          criteria for membership and tenure of members,
-          measures to strengthen governance and decision making,
-          monitoring and reporting arrangements, and
-          supporting local services to achieve quality standards in the delivery of services.
Minister’s bilateral meetings
According to Susan Scally, the above changes were the outcome of a review of drugs task forces and national structures decision completed in 2012,4 and a subsequent series of bilateral meetings between Minister of State White with his counterparts in other government departments, with statutory agencies, and with representatives of the community and voluntary sectors and the regional and local drugs task forces. Ms Scally listed the key strategic issues to emerge from these bilateral meetings as follows:
Supply reduction
-          Garda and Revenue Customs Service joint operations result in significant seizures of drugs.
-          Significant seizures of new psychoactive substances by Customs; shift to internet outlets is an emerging challenge.
-          Drug-related Intimidation Reporting Programme is an ongoing partnership between gardaí, Family Support Network and HSE.
-          An inspector in every Garda division is to target adults in the drug trade who use children to run drugs.
Education and prevention
-          90.2% of children sit Leaving Certificate, which is regarded as a protective factor.
-          Outcomes-focused Children and Youth Strategy Framework is in final stages of development.
-          30% of children live with parental alcohol substance misuse.
-          Supports for children and young people at risk in high-support settings (assessment, consultation and therapy service) – HSE, Irish Youth Justice Service.
-          Nationwide access to treatment services:
o    Almost 100% of over-18s access treatment within one month;
o    Almost 100% of under-18s access treatment within one week.
-          Probation Service works with prison, gardaí and treatment services to intervene with clients with substance misuse problems.
-          Three main health issues affecting prisoners are mental health, poor physical health and drug addiction.
-          Expansion of drug treatment (including methadone treatment) and other health and social services in prisons and in-reach services as required.
-          Protocol in place for seamless provision of treatment services between prison and the community.
-          Drug treatment in prisons contributing to a reduction in the incidence of post-release overdoses.
-          Very positive feedback from National Drug Rehabilitation Implementation Committee (NDRIC) evaluation; drugs task forces played a key role.
-          National roll-out of NDRIC is planned.
-          Issue with take-up of places on drug-specific Community Employment (CE) schemes; an advisory committee under aegis of Department of Social Protection is examining the model.
1. Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (2009) National Drugs Strategy (interim) 2009–2016. Dublin: Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, paragraph 6.50. www.drugsandalcohol.ie/12388/
2. Department of Tourism, Sport and Recreation (2001) Building on Experience: National Drugs Strategy 2001–2008. Dublin: Stationery Office, Dublin, paragraphs 3.6.4–3.6.5 and Actions 85–91.  www.drugsandalcohol.ie/5187/
3. Susan Scally’s presentation is available at www.drugs.ie/multimedia
4. Department of Health (2012) Report on the review of drugs task forces and the national structures under which they operate. Dublin: Department of Health. www.drugsandalcohol.ie/19054/  
Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
General / Comprehensive, Harm reduction
Issue Title
Issue 49, Spring 2014
April 2014
Page Range
pp. 4-5
Health Research Board
Issue 49, Spring 2014
Accession Number
HRB (Electronic Only)

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