Thursday 3 September 2015

Gardai need resources to tackle drug scourge

Published 11/08/2014 | 02:30

ALL too often in the justice sector, major initiatives have a less than billed impact.

If it's not political or legislative overreach, or both, the best-laid plans are routinely felled by
 inadequate resources.

That the work of a small, eight-person unit of undercover gardai has led to the arrest of more than 3,000 people involved in the drugs trade is a cause for both celebration and frustration.

The Test Purchase Unit (TPU), also known as the "Mockie Squad" - mock junkies - pose as drug addicts to infiltrate local drug cells and entrap dealers.

The TPU, relative to its small size, has achieved commendable success.

It has shown how targeted, intelligent policing can infiltrate the nefarious world of drug dealing and eliminate or at least seriously disrupt dealers' deadly operations.

But the prosecution and conviction of drug suppliers and dealers requires more than one unit, which cannot carry out more than one investigation at any given time.

All over the country, local communities are crying out to the Government for help in tackling the scourge of drugs, which has claimed the lives of so many young people.

The rural town of Roscrea, Co Tipperary, is just one area that has demanded action in recent times.

There are many more.

There are many competing demands on garda management resources, but proven initiatives must not be compromised.

Targeted resources deployed to disrupt the supply of illegal drugs have immense benefits. There may be upfront costs but - compared to the unspeakable human cost to addicts, their families and communities torn apart by drug abuse - this is money well spent.

Irish Independent

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