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Μένη Μαλλιώρη » OKANA, Εκδηλώσεις, Εξωτερικό, Ομιλίες - Χαιρετισμοί » Basic principles for Cooperation between law enforcement (police and judiciary) and demand reduction services (treatment social rehabilitation and harm reduction)

Basic principles for Cooperation between law enforcement (police and judiciary) and demand reduction services (treatment social rehabilitation and harm reduction)

«Basic principles for Cooperation between law enforcement (police  and Judiciary) and demand reduction services (treatment social rehabilitation and harm  reduction)»

Regional Seminar on Drug demand reduction in South East Europe

Organised in cooperation with the National Center for Drug Addictions and the Ministry of health of the Republic of Bulgaria

 

It seems to me that the basic principle for the cooperation between law enforcement and demand reduction services with regard to drugs, is to take into account the distinction between combating drugs and combating drug addiction.

The former relates mainly to drug cultivation, smuggling, trafficking, money laundering etc.

The latter involves exclusively the use and the users of drugs.

Hence, completely different goals are served in these two cases and equally completely different measures are taken in order to achieve the said goals.

The main goal of any law enforcement policy concerning drugs, aims at safeguarding Law and Order and at protecting the society or the general public. As art.152, par.2 of the European Community Treaty stipulates, the objective is to provide the European citizens with a high level of safety in an area of freedom, security and justice, by preventing and combating crime related mainly to illegal drug trafficking. This objective is met, through a penal system which provides both the police and the judiciary with the adequate legal tools to inflict punishment upon those who commit criminal offences in this particular field.

On the other hand, the policy of the demand reduction services aims predominantly at the protection of the individual human being, through a social and medical system of therapeutic and harm reduction activities, for drug users. This principle is reflected in art. 29 of the European Community Treaty which states that the reduction of drugs-related health damage constitutes a new objective of cooperation between Member States in addition to their traditional cooperation in the field of prevention. However, it is important to mention here that the drug policy is a responsibility of each Member State and that the European Union can only propose recommendations.

Concerning demand reduction policy, a similar position is taken by the European Parliament which clearly stated, in 2004, that “drug dependence constitutes a purely social problem: the only measures required to be taken at a European level are those that can eradicate the social marginalisation of drug users and can replace gradually the restraining policies which reach dangerously the limits of violation of the fundamental human rights.”

The distinction is, therefore, clear. Consequently, one could identify, in a few words, the law enforcement policies as referring to a drug supply reduction, based on repressive or punitive action of the police and the judicial authorities. While, the policies of medical or other social services concern demand reduction, to be achieved through preventive, therapeutic and rehabilitation measures.

The international community in general and the European Union in particular, have applied the supply reduction policy for many decades. To the contrary, demand reduction policy was adopted as late as June 1998 by the Special Session of the United Nations which required the Member States to follow a balanced policy between demand and supply in the field of drugs and, therefore, to strike a balance between punishment and treatment.

This general principle, although consistently promoted by drug laws in the European Union, did not, however, succeed in eliminating the inherent obstacles which are the source of serious problems for the effective cooperation between law enforcement and demand reduction services.

The reason is, to a significant degree, that the basic relevant United Nations Conventions of 1961, 1971 and 1988 leave the signatories countries without the obligation to adopt uniform legal measures, but with room for manoeuvre to control illicit possession of drugs for personal use as they see fit.

In this context, laws within the European Union differ from country to country, some of them providing prison sentences for punishment and others having decriminalised, in recent years, the possession of drugs for personal use.

The end result of these developments has been a confusing and often contradictory situation. There is a variety of approaches European Union-wide to illicit personal use of drugs and the preparatory acts, of possession and acquisition. And there is a corresponding variety of police as well as prosecutors actions, ranging from criminal prosecution to treatment of therapeutic or social nature.

On the one hand, penal law and distribution of justice in European countries up-to-day does not seem to be convinced about the effectiveness of the therapeutic communities concerning the reduction of crime. Hence, the drug-related police arrests seem to follow an increasing tendency. Additionally, the average judge hesitates or, even avoids, although he may have the right, to use alternative to punishment treatment measures, fearing that replacing punishment by treatment would have as a consequence the bending of anti-criminal function and crime prevention.

On the other hand, the justice system in most European countries appears to be seeking increasingly opportunities to discharge drug offenders, to apply “soft” or alternative sanctions, such as fines, formal warnings, suspension of drivers licence, diversion to treatment, and to consider criminal measures as a “last resort”.

A somehow different, but not altogether irrelevant, aspect of the same problem, which also concerns the cooperation between law enforcement and demand reduction services, is the definition of drug-related crime, a necessary prerequisite to discussion on the complex relationship of drugs and crime.

This is neither a simple nor a linear matter. Nor is it universal: many repeat offenders are not involved in drug use and many dependent drug users do not commit any crimes, other than drug use/possession in countries where this is criminalised.

The issue has been recognised in the current European Union drugs action plan (2005-2008) which asks for a common definition of drug-related crime in order to ensure a high level of security for the general public through the reduction and the prevention of such a crime.

Thus, adopting a clear definition of drug-related crime is an essential first step for the assessment of the true extent of the problem and of the impact of the various policies and actions. It is also important in relation with a variety of factors which may express a specific connection, or not, between drugs and crime. The link between drugs and crime has profound implications for public policy because the response of society to drug related crimes depends on the knowledge of this link.

In this context, a definition of drug related crime could be based on the distinction between crimes for psychopharmacological reasons, economic-compulsive incentives, systematic criminal activity and drug law offences.

Taking into consideration all the above elements one arrives, I believe, to the conclusion that a key factor for ensuring an effective cooperation between law enforcement and demand reduction services is coordination of drug policies both internationally, among countries, and at national level. Unfortunately this is easier said than done.

The principle of coordination is, of course, widely recognised, by international consensus as the cornerstone of a successful drugs policy and as an essential tool on bringing together two different elements of drugs policy. Treatment and social intervention on one hand and law enforcement on the other.

But despite this general consensus, there is a lack of clarity about precisely what coordination should entail, since coordination is an ill defined concept and difficult to measure. Hence, a new concept is needed to establish a common working definition of coordination in the field of drugs.

The second European programme to combat drugs, adopted in 1992, contains a number of recommendations related to drug coordination mechanisms. It explicitly refers to the need for coordination mechanisms between the authorities for combating drug trafficking and those in charge of treatment programmes. It also recommends that these coordination mechanisms should encompass all aspects of drug policy, including health care, treatment and social interventions, law enforcement and international collaboration.

In line with these recommendations, most European Union countries reported that they have established such mechanisms but the fact remains that they vary considerably.

Consequently, more than 10 years later, the European Union drugs action plan (2000-2004) calls again for an evaluation of present coordination arrangements and for the improvement and strengthening of national coordination mechanisms of law enforcement and all other aspects of drugs policy within Member States.

It seems, therefore, that it is necessary to develop guidelines and rules that can support the implementation of treatment intervention with the penal justice system. Cohesion and effectiveness of this new orientation could be ensured when measures will be common and coordinated in the whole of the European setting as well as between the relevant national authorities.

Amongst the measures that could be suggested as most urgent I mention:

  • the establishment of specialised judicial departments, with specially educated judges handling drug related cases who should be aware of such terms as addiction, harm reduction, abstinence, withdrawal, drug-free rehabilitation, re-entry etc.
  • They should also understand the real options offered through punishment or treatment and they should remain in the relevant post for an adequate amount of time in order to obtain experience but, on the other side, they should rotate after 3 years in order to avoid the risk of corruption.
  • the creation of drug-free prisons
  • alternatively, the creation of prisons with drug rehabilitation programmes and such facilities as residency in special units, release upon certain conditions etc.

Finally, with reference to the cooperation between law enforcement and demand reduction services, it must be underlined that the European Union drugs strategy 2005-2012 sets specific priorities and actions in order to provide a framework for a balanced approach to reducing both supply and demand of drugs.

As far as demand reduction is concerned, the relevant provisions refer to:

– improving access to and effectiveness of prevention activities.

– improving access to early intervention programmes.

– improving access to targeted and diversified treatment programmes with emphasis on psychosocial and pharmacological care.

– improving access to services for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.

With regard to the supply reduction, the European Union strategy provides for:

  • strengthening EU cooperation in the field of law enforcement and crime prevention.
  • Intensifying operational law enforcement cooperation among Member States through the existing resources (Europol, Eurojust, Financial Intelligence Unit, European Arrest Warrant)
  • Prevention and combating of illegal imports and exports of psychoactive drugs
  • Strengthening criminal and forensic investigation.
  • Intensifying law enforcement efforts directed at non-EU countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the issue of cooperation between law enforcement and social services with regard to drugs is not an easy and simple matter. It has to do with cultural, philosophical, legal, economic and social considerations which each society and particularly the European Union Member States have to take into account. But the fact remains that, despite the difficulties, a methodology and a system has to be ensured in order to obtain an effective collaboration between law enforcement and demand reduction services, which would confirm the principle that “drug addicts need treatment and drug criminals are subjected to punishment”. –

Meni Malliori /Ass. Prof. of Psychiatry University of Athens, Vice Chairman of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

Ταξινομημένο σε: OKANA, Εκδηλώσεις, Εξωτερικό, Ομιλίες - Χαιρετισμοί