Minister announces changes to drugs task forces

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Minister of State with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy, Alex White, today announced the conclusions of a Department of Health review of Drugs Task Forces.

The Review recommends a series of changes for the Drugs Task Forces to respond to current patterns 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 the 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.

Drugs Task Forces were set up in areas experiencing the highest levels of drug misuse, particularly heroin, in the late 1990s.