Press Release

Minister Alex White announces reforms to local and regional drugs task forces

Mr Alex White TD, Minister of State with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy today (18 December 2012) announced the conclusions of a review of Drugs Task Forces undertaken by the Department of Health.

Drugs Task Forces were set up in areas experiencing the highest levels of drug misuse, particularly heroin, in the late 1990s.  With the establishment of the Regional Drugs Task Forces, they now form part of a nationwide response to substance misuse.

The Review recommends a series of reforms to better equip the Drugs Task Forces to respond to the current pattern of substance misuse.  The key changes include:

  • Drugs Task Forces to be renamed “Drug and Alcohol Task Forces” reflecting their current role in tackling substance misuse, including alcohol;
  • A National Coordinating Committee to be established to guide the work of the Drug and Alcohol Task Forces and drive implementation of the National Drugs Strategy;
  • Clearer terms of reference and corporate governance guidelines for Drug and Alcohol Task Forces;
  • Measures to encourage more Public Representative involvement in the work of Drug and Alcohol Task Forces and
  • Review of the number and boundaries of Drugs Task Forces, mainly in Dublin.

“One of the most notable achievements of the Drugs Task Forces is the extent to which they have engaged communities and encouraged inter-agency working at the local level” said Minister White. “The reforms that I have announced today are focused on strengthening the impact of Drugs Task Forces so that they continue to be central to the local response to tackling the drug and alcohol problem”.

In excess of €28m will be made available to Drugs Task Forces from the Drugs Initiative Fund next year to support community based drugs initiatives.  Drugs Task Forces are currently in the process of determining individual allocations to projects in accordance with their local priorities for 2013.

The Minister confirmed his intention to bring forward further measures to improve management and control of expenditure by the community drugs projects overseen by the Drugs Task Forces in the New Year.

ENDS

Notes for Editors

Local Drugs Task Forces were originally established in areas experiencing the highest levels of drug misuse, particularly heroin, in the late 1990s.  There are currently 14 Local Drugs Task Forces and 10 Regional Drugs Task Forces.

Drugs Task Forces assess the extent and nature of the drug problem in their areas and prepare local drugs strategies and action plans to provide a coordinated and targeted response to the drug problem at local level.  Over €29m was allocated in 2012 to community drugs initiatives set up by Drugs Task Forces to respond to the local drug problem.

The Review of Drugs Task Forces was initiated by the Department of Health in October 2011.   The objectives of the review were to:

  • Review the role and composition of Drugs Task Forces and the national structures under which they operate;
  • Streamline the funding arrangements for projects supported by Drugs Task Forces;
  • Overhaul the accountability and reporting arrangements for drugs projects supported by Drugs Task Forces.