Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 14. Drugs crime [42195/18].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 14. Drugs crime [42195/18]. (17 Oct 2018)

URL: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/dail/2...


14. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of mandatory intoxicant tests per county in 2017 and to date in 2018; the number of positive tests per county in 2017 and to date in 2018; the types of drugs detected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42195/18]

 

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: The Minister is aware that since the revelations of the breath testing scandal at the start of 2017, An Garda Síochána is still not publishing full statistics on the website around mandatory intoxicant testing checkpoints, MITS. The respective number of checkpoints and breath tests are not displayed. Since April 2017 I have been asking the Minister, Deputy Flanagan, about this matter and about the level of training among An Garda Síochána in the use of the Dräger 5000 device. I have asked about the total number of tests carried out in each county along with the number of positive tests. Previous responses to parliamentary questions told me that "only data in respect of the number of positive preliminary drug tests performed at mandatory intoxicant testing checkpoints can be provided." We need, however, to see the full picture. Although it is down by six deaths, this year we still have had a significant number of road fatalities.

 

Deputy Charles Flanagan: As the Deputy will be aware, the recently published Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland report recommends that policing must be information led and that data should be seen as a strategic asset and a key factor in determining policing decisions. My Department is currently analysing the report and my officials are currently engaging in consultations with An Garda Síochána, the policing oversight bodies and the relevant Departments in order to inform my substantive response and the high-level implementation plan and project structure that I intend to bring to Government by December.

 

With respect to the Deputy's question, section 10 of the Road Traffic Act 2010 provides for mandatory intoxicant testing, MIT, checkpoints. The powers of An Garda Síochána under the 2010 Act were extended under the Road Traffic Act 2016 to allow preliminary oral fluid-testing for drugs to be undertaken at these checkpoints, in additional to the current preliminary breath testing for alcohol. These provisions came into force on 13 April 2017.

 

I am informed by An Garda Síochána that it has conducted a total of 101,965 MIT checkpoints nationally since then. I have provided the Deputy with a table - provided by the Garda authorities - that details the number of MIT checkpoints conducted by Garda division, the number of breath tests and oral fluid tests conducted, the number of persons who have tested positive for alcohol or drugs at these checkpoints and the number who failed or refused to provide a specimen.

 

I am further informed by An Garda Síochána that information on all the types of drugs detected at these MIT checkpoints is not available as such an exercise would necessitate a manual trawl of all relevant incidents recorded on PULSE to collate same, which would require a disproportionate expenditure of Garda time and resources. The Deputy will be aware, however, that the drug testing devices employed by An Garda Síochána involve testing a sample of a driver’s oral fluid for the presence of cannabis, cocaine, opiates, heroin, morphine and benzodiazepines such as valium.

 

Garda Division

Number of MIT Checkpoints conducted 2017- year to date 2018

Roadside Breath Tested Conducted

No. of positive Roadside Breath Tests

Roadside Oral Fluid Tested Conducted

No. of positive Oral Fluid Tests

Fail/Refusal breath Test

Fail/Refusal Oral Fluid Test

Cavan/Monaghan

3202

12510

105

56

13

3

0

Clare

5897

25162

88

177

22

2

0

Cork City

8855

23959

119

4

1

0

0

Cork North

9681

21023

95

55

8

1

1

Cork West

8647

21118

118

124

13

0

0

D.M.R. Eastern

891

12522

83

152

9

4

0

D.M.R. North Central

714

8693

39

71

15

2

0

D.M.R. Northern

712

11056

67

91

6

1

0

D.M.R. South Central

704

17176

53

97

6

0

0

D.M.R. Southern

779

13866

61

95

14

0

0

D.M.R. Western

1463

13228

98

154

13

0

0

Donegal

3044

14640

73

11

0

1

0

Galway

7047

28434

191

22

5

0

0

Kerry

4651

14717

82

43

11

0

1

Kildare

3985

44364

272

268

32

2

0

Kilkenny/Carlow

1936

9561

108

44

5

0

0

Laois/Offaly

3332

29355

111

120

16

0

0

Limerick

7217

21256

136

42

7

1

0

Louth

2470

9758

53

3

2

0

0

Mayo

3329

13764

87

12

3

2

0

Meath

1946

9559

87

17

4

2

0

Roscommon/Longford

3065

16203

87

42

10

0

0

Sligo/Leitrim

2231

8196

31

59

9

0

0

Tipperary

6742

17822

103

21

5

2

0

Waterford

2400

14544

79

31

5

1

0

Westmeath

1938

9692

82

14

5

1

0

Wexford

2988

17445

136

105

19

1

0

Wicklow

2099

12542

55

9

1

1

0

* The statistics provided are provisional, operational and liable to change and are valid for the period 13 April 2017- 12 October 2018.

 

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: The Minister has not been able to give me a breakdown by county. I asked the Minister in 2017. That was in the Dublin metropolitan region, but the Minister did not give me any indication of the numbers of drug tests that had taken place outside that area. The point made by the Minister from the Garda report is very valid, that policing must be information and statistics led.

 

The other major issue that arose in relation to this, and which I also raised with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Shane Ross, was the error in section 11 of the Road Traffic Act 2016 with regard to the powers of gardaí to conduct impairment tests and making it an offence if a person refused to comply. I believe the section was revised in the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act 2018, but it has been noted since that similar changes will be necessary with regard to references in section 12 of the earlier Act around the obligation to provide blood, breath or urine specimens following an arrest, and with regard to section 16. Does this mean there is a lacuna or infirmity once again in road traffic law? I put it to the Minister that we constantly find these lacunae and gaps in road traffic law. Is it the case once again that the Minister should be doing a consolidation, as I have also asked the Taoiseach and the Minister, Deputy Ross, many times-----

 

An Ceann Comhairle; The Deputy's time is up. We will hear a concluding remark from the Minister.

 

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan

-----if we are to have clear road traffic law?

 

Deputy Charles Flanagan

I acknowledge Deputy Broughan's longstanding commitment to road safety. It is regrettable that it has not always been possible to provide as quickly as might be desired the information on road traffic enforcement issues as sought by the Deputy. I know that a number of outstanding parliamentary questions for written reply have not been dealt with in the manner the Deputy might expect. I am informed by An Garda Síochána that owing to the very specific and statistical nature of the data requested in many of the questions on road traffic enforcement, the compilation of such data is often particularly intensive in terms of the time required. I also understand that in certain locations it is not possible to collate or break down statistical information in the manner specifically requested by the Deputy. I have raised the issue and I am concerned to ensure at all times that replies to parliamentary questions can be effective and also promptly delivered. I hope the Deputy can appreciate that, even when delays occur in the provision of road traffic enforcement statistics, officials in An Garda Síochána and my Department endeavour to provide a comprehensive and informative response as quickly as possible. I will be happy to speak to the Deputy on a bilateral basis about the issue.

 

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan

I wish to return to the point that was ably raised by Deputy Bobby Aylward about Garda resources. We recently had a joint policing committee meeting in the Dublin north-central area, at which meetings issues frequently arise about Garda resources. The Minister always tells me that it is a matter for the Commissioner, Mr. Harris, but if we are to return to a level of mandatory impairment testing, MIT, checkpoints and roadside testing, An Garda Síochána, including our chief superintendent and the chief superintendent in Kilkenny and everywhere else, must have the necessary resources, but there still seem to be huge gaps in that regard. The important point has been made that roadside checks are not just for alcohol and drugs but often lead to the detection of other serious crimes. That is one reason we need to resource An Garda Síochána. It is okay to talk about what will happen in 2021, but we need resources now in late 2018.

Item Type:Dail Debates
Source:Oireachtas
Date:17 October 2018
EndNote:View
Subjects:A Substance use, abuse, and dependence > Substance related societal (social) problems > Drug use and driving
MM-MO Crime and law > Crime > Substance related crime
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland

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