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Almost €700,000 allocated for delayed drug treatment programme

Almost €700,000 is being provided for the delayed implementation next year of a landmark shift in the legal approach to people found in possession of drugs for personal use.

Under a new diversion system, announced in August 2019 by the then-government, people caught by gardaí in possession of drugs for personal use for the first time will be referred for a health intervention.

For those caught a second time, garda discretion will apply in relation to a second diversion, while those found a third time would be prosecuted and could receive a criminal conviction.

The system, originally due to be in place by autumn 2020, was based on the report of a State expert group, which ruled out decriminalisation of drug possession. The Department of Health and the Department of Justice, which jointly set up the group, have been trying through Covid-19 to make progress.

A key part of the new system is a “health screening and brief intervention” of the person sent by gardaí. This is supposed to be carried out by trained HSE staff using the Screening and Brief Intervention for Problem Alcohol and Substance Use (SAOR) programme.

In autumn 2019, authorities said new posts would be created across the HSE’s Community Healthcare Organisation Areas for staff trained in SAOR to carry out the brief intervention.

Details of Budget 2020 provided by the Department of Health show that €680,000 is being provided next year “to commence the implementation of the health diversion programme for individuals found in possession of drugs for personal use”.

It said the funding will establish “a national network” of health screening and brief intervention services (SAOR) for people referred to the programme.

Read more here...

Source: Cormac O'Keeffe, The Irish Examiner, 19th October 2021

Posted by on 10/20 at 09:13 AM in
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