Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 180 - Drugs in prisons [45186/17].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 180 - Drugs in prisons [45186/17]. (25 Oct 2017)

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180. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 227 and 229 of 17 October 2017, if the keeping drugs out of prison policy is under review; and the data that is available on drug seizures in prisons, in particular those with the highest number of drug seizures, that is, Mountjoy, Limerick, Midlands and Wheatfield prisons. [45186/17]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I wish to advise the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service is planning to review the "Keeping Drugs out of Prison" policy during 2018.


  The central purpose of the policy, keeping drugs out of prison, is under constant review by my officials in the Irish Prison Service. My officials are constantly exploring new technologies to assist in preventing the smuggling of drugs into prison, and also new technologies to assist in finding and retrieving any drugs which have actually made it into the prisons themselves. For example, the prison service has introduced a confidential telephone line which allows prisoners and members of the public to alert authorities, in strict confidence, of activities related to the illegal smuggling - and use - of drugs in prisons.


  As previously stated in my response to questions on this matter I am also advised by my officials in the Irish Prison Service that the Operational Support Group of the Irish Prison Service maintain records in relation to drug seizures and that these statistics are regularly reported to Prison Service Headquarters. However there are limitations on the details recorded, in view of the fact that the Prison Service does not have the laboratory facilities required to establish the exact chemical composition of all drugs.


  The following table sets out the number of suspected drug seizures in Irish Prisons to date in 2017 (figures up to and including 17th September 2017).


Number of Drug Seizures in 2017 

Arbour Hill












Loughan House 








Shelton Abbey


Training Unit

Wheatfield Place of Detention





  It should be noted that the Policy is not just about the security element it also deals with treatment for prisoners. I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that any prisoner who enters the custody of the Irish Prison Services while presenting with addiction issues has access to addiction services, and is actively encouraged to engage with those services.


  The treatments available are based on the principles of best practice, and are similar to those available in the community setting.  This includes access to harm reduction methods, detoxification, stabilisation, and opiate replacement therapies.  These interventions are based on a multi-professional approach to ensure that the prisoners motivation, commitment and likelihood of success are always at the centre of planned care.


  The Irish Prison Service has advised that the healthcare team which delivers these treatments include, inter alia, GP Specialist Addiction services, Consultant Addiction psychiatrist, specialist addiction nurses, addiction counsellors, addiction links workers, pharmacists, primary care GP's, and prison nurses.


  The Irish Prison Service also works very closely with the Probation Service, community, voluntary, and statutory agencies to maintain a pathway of care ensuring supports remain in place for prisoners on their release from custody.


  All prisoners have access to group and individual counselling services where they can address their own personal requirements, and specific support arrangements can be put in place and implemented during the prisoners period in custody. The person in custody can also benefit from peer support groups, music therapy, and a 9 week psycho-social based programme similar to community residential treatment services, which assists the person in remaining drug free. 


  Following the recent publication of “Reducing Harm; Supporting Recovery” the new National Drugs strategy, the Irish Prison Service is in the process of updating its Clinical Addiction Treatment Policy to include the new priorities and service developments therein.


  To this end, the IPS is co-lead on a number of national initiatives, including the establishment of Dual Diagnosis Services, so that the treatment of co-morbidities, within the prison estate, becomes routine and effective.


[See also Dail debate answer from 19 October 2017]

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