Monies seized from the proceeds of crimes should be directed towards community drug services to tackle the rise in relapse and addictions that has occurred over the past year due to pressures from the pandemic, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
The National Drugs & Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) seized drugs valued at €28.2 million during the period 1 January to 30 April 2021, a 392% increase over the same period last year when drugs valued at €5.7m were seized.
Speaking today, Senator Mary Seery Kearney said: “I want to congratulate the Gardai on their very significant drug seizure to date this year. The seizures made by the GNDOCB in the first four months of this year alone, including €3.8m in cash, reveal the extraordinary magnitude of the intent to supply drugs in communities.
“Anecdotal evidence from practitioners in addiction services suggests that there has been a rise in relapses and addictions during the past year, as people turn to self-medicating to cope with the lack of routine, stresses of Covid, financial pressures and other strains. Despite the constraints, services have been operating within restrictions and using innovative ways to reach out to their service users.
“I welcome the recent announcement from the Departments of Justice and Public Expenditure that the Community Safety Innovation Fund will be provided for in Budget 2022 and will use seized proceeds of crime to invest in community safety projects.
“The fund envisions the establishment of Local Community Safety Partnerships which will bring together residents, community representatives, businesses, councillors, local authorities and State services to ensure crime does not take hold in their areas and among young people.
“The Partnerships will be entitled to apply for financial support for measures to protect their community. I believe it’s essential for these Partnerships to work with and back the provision of added supports for local policing forums.
“These additional supports could include community focused workers to carry out Community Crime Impact Assessments, to accelerate the support desperately needed by families dealing with intimidation arising from drug debts,” concluded Senator Seery Kearney.