Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 123 - Drugs in prisons [4940/05].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 123 - Drugs in prisons [4940/05]. (16 Feb 2005)

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

123. Ms O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress which has been made with regard to the implementation of the commitment contained in An Agreed Programme for Government to end all heroin use in prisons here; if he will proceed with plans to introduce mandatory drug testing in prisons. [4940/05]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): Mindful of the commitments in the programme for Government, a group comprising Irish Prison Service management, prison governors, health authority representatives and clinicians have been consulted in relation to a drugs policy for the Irish Prison Service. The intention is that the drugs policy will facilitate consistent regulatory and operational structures in pursuing both supply and demand reduction. The policy will have regard to the commitment in the programme for Government to end all heroin use in Irish prisons and my commitment to achieving a drug free prison system. Working to fulfil these commitments will involve implementation of stringent measures to prevent drugs from getting into prisons while, at the same time, continuing to invest in services within prisons to reduce the demand for illicit drugs in the prisoner population and meet prisoners’ treatment needs.

Central to supporting future supply and demand reduction will be the introduction of mandatory drug testing as envisaged in the programme for Government. Already, prisoners accommodated in the training unit, the open centres at Shelton Abbey and Loughan House, and in the designated drug free areas of Wheatfield Prison and St. Patrick’s Institution in the Mountjoy complex are required to undergo frequent drug tests to confirm their drug free status. Mandatory drug testing will, however, soon operate all across the prison system. It will enable identification and referral of drug abusers to treatment programmes, enable enhanced focusing of resources and act as a deterrent to drug misuse. The new prison rules, which are almost finalised in my Department, will include specific provision for mandatory drug testing, and, in this context, it is intended that later in the year, the Irish Prison Service will commence implementation of a new strategy of mandatory drug testing, addiction counselling and treatment, and increased measures to prevent drug usage to provide a more complete system of rehabilitation.

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