Dáil Éireann - Volume 378 - 18 February, 1988

Written Answers. - Garda Drugs Squad.

30. Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice the number of Garda officers currently assigned to the drugs squad; if the Garda Drugs Squad is up to full strength; if he has satisfied himself that adequate resources and personnel have been made available to the drugs squad; and if he will make a statement on the progress made to date by the Garda Drugs Squad in dealing with the drugs problem.

Minister for Justice (Mr. Collins): There are three full-time Garda Drugs Squads based in Dublin, Cork and Limerick with a total current strength of 45 members. In addition, nine members of the Force are at present engaged full-time on anti-drugs work in the city centre and Ballymun areas of Dublin.

The allocation of manpower and other [440] resources to specialised units like the Drugs Squad is a matter for the Garda authorities in the light of their assessment of needs and having regard to overall resources and other demands on Garda services.

The Garda strategy for dealing with the drugs problem is to have a number of specialised units assigned exclusively to anti-drugs work and to provide specialised training in such work for a substantial number of members in all Garda Divisions. It is the considered opinion of the Garda authorities — and this view is in line with current thinking in many police forces — that while specialised drugs units have a valuable contribution to make, there is a limit to the extent to which available resources ought to be allocated to them, rather than to the provision of specialised anti-drugs training for a much larger number of members of the Garda Síochána who use this training while also carrying out other police duties. To date, some 3,000 members of the Force have undergone specialised training in anti-drugs work. The Garda authorities consider that measures of this kind make the best use of resources in dealing with the drugs problem and they will continue to keep the matter under review.