Concerns over drugs unit numbers

Concerns over drugs unit numbers
The strength of the Garda drugs unit in Donegal is 23 per cent lower than it was in 2000.

The strength of the Garda drugs unit in Donegal is 23 per cent lower than it was in 2000.

Figures released to the Dáil following parliamentary questions put the number of gardaí in the drug unit in the county in February of this year at ten, three fewer than in 2000. The figures were revealed following a recent parliamentary question by TD Colm Keaveney. But the figures for 2013 are two higher than 2009 when figures put the strength of the unit at just eight.

Concerns have been raised that many of the members assigned to the unit are not working on it full time and are splitting their time with other duties.

Letterkenny anti-drugs campaigner and Peace Commissioner PJ Blake said the members of the dugs unit in the latest figures are not all assigned to the unit on a full-time basis. He said he believed the actual resources being given to fight drugs in the county are lower than the figures suggest. Mr. Blake said that while there have been successes against the drugs trade in the county, the necessary resources are not being given to the issue.

“They are not being given the resources as far as I know,” he said. “Members are doing the drug squad work on a part-time basis and that is the reality of it. There used to be ten in the unit in Letterkenny alone. There is now no unit in Donegal town and no unit in Milford, and what is in Letterkenny is piecemeal. They are doing other duties, but the drugs issue needs to be worked at 24 hours a day. Eventually we will have another tragedy and that’s when the resources will come out,” he said.