Dáil Éireann - Volume 523 - 05 October, 2000
Written Answers. - Drug Abuse within Prisons.
Mr. Penrose Mr. Penrose
32. Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps being taken to combat drug use within prisons and particularly to ensure that non-using prisoners are not exposed to drugs in view of the findings of a recent report that one in five began injecting drugs while in prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20174/00]
Mr. O'Donoghue Mr. O'Donoghue
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): I presume the Deputy is referring to the report entitled Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV in Irish Prisoners: Prevalence and Risk which my Department published in August 1999. The report was based on research commissioned by the Prisons Service and is a valuable and frank survey of one of the most challenging problems facing the Prisons Service. It must be remembered, however, that the declared personal drug histories by participants in surveys of this kind cannot be totally relied upon as accurate in all instances. This should particularly be borne in mind in relation to claims by survey participants to have first started injecting in prison.
I can assure you that both I and the director general of the Prisons Service are fully committed to tackling the drug problem in the prison system. The action plan on drug misuse and drug treat ment in the prison system which I approved last year provides a detailed strategy to raise the level of treatment for drug addicted offenders. This includes the expansion of detoxification facilities, more drug free areas and the provision of methadone maintenance. The provision of addiction counselling support services is central to the plan.
At my request, the director general of the Prisons Service established a national steering group for prison based drug treatment services with a view to implementing the action plan. The steering group comprises representatives from this Department, the Eastern Regional Health Authority, senior Prisons Service management and the Probation and Welfare Service. The group invited submissions, via newspaper advertisements, from the general public as well as from special interest groups in relation to its review.
The steering group submitted its first report to me in July 2000. The report was circulated to various organisations for views and feedback and has been submitted to Government for approval. A decision on the recommendations contained in the report will be made by Government in the coming weeks.
Dáil Éireann 523 Written Answers. Drug Abuse within Prisons.