Impact on city of drug treatment highlighted


THE CLUSTERING of drug-treatment centres and homelessness services in Dublin city centre is contributing to antisocial behaviour in the capital, according to a new multi-agency report published yesterday.

The Better City for All report concluded problematic drug users should have greater access to treatment options nationally, with services such as detoxification units available closer to their homes.

The street-dealing of prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines and z-hypnotic sedatives such as zimmovane was identified as one of the key problems to be addressed. The group recommended gardaí be given powers to initiate prosecutions against people who deal these prescription medications, which now outsell heroin, cocaine and cannabis on the streets of Dublin.

The report was produced by a group of 11 agencies dealing with substance abuse and antisocial behaviour, including the Ana Liffey Drug Project, an Garda Síochána, Dublin City Business Improvement District, Dublin Simon Community and local drugs taskforces and treatment centres.

The study covers the area between Christ Church, the Irish Financial Services Centre, Parnell Square and St Stephen’s Green.

The research included analysing data from the Garda, mapping the location of support services and alcohol outlets, reviewing recommendations made in previous reports, and interviews with tourists, members of the public, service users and treatment providers.

The report supports recent recommendations made by Prof Michael Farrell and Prof Joe Barry in their report on the opioid treatment protocol, which called for an increase in the number of level 2 GPs who could provide methadone substitution treatment locally.

Opening hours in drug-treatment centres should be revised, as the four main providers in Dublin are closed between 1pm and 2pm which can lead to antisocial behaviour, the report said.

Alcohol was also identified as a key contributor to public order offences and property crime. The group recommended no new planning permissions should be given for off-licence sales in the city centre.

Accommodation should be provided where people who wish to consume alcohol can do so under regulated conditions, according to the group. This would reduce street-drinking, which negatively affects perceptions of safety.

Speaking at the launch of the report yesterday, the strategic response group chairman Johnny Connolly said this is the first time all stakeholders involved in drug treatment and substance-misuse-related antisocial behaviour have come together to deliver a comprehensive set of recommendations.