Saturday 17 November 2018

Improving economy leads to rise in demand for 'party drugs' in Ireland - new report

(PA)
(PA)
Fiona Dillon

Fiona Dillon

THE improving economic conditions in Ireland over recent years has led to a resurgence in demand for “party drugs” like cocaine and MDMA, according to a new report.

The Cross Border Organised Crime Threat Assessment Report 2018, which looks at criminal activity on the island of Ireland, said that retailing at approximately €70 per gram and in constant demand across a wide variety of areas, cocaine is second only to cannabis in its attractiveness for organised criminal groups.

“It is as yet unclear if the consumption of cocaine has returned to its 2007 peak and stabilised, but anecdotal evidence suggests that such a return is likely to occur soon if that has not already happened,” it said.

The report was released as the sixteenth annual cross border organised crime conference, which opened today at the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, Co Down.

The conference on the theme of “Shared Problems, Shared Solutions” takes place over two days, and brought together representatives from government departments, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, gardai, the Criminal Assets Bureau, the National Crime Agency, HM Revenue and customs and Revenue Commissioners.

At today’s session, the threat assessment report jointly prepared by the PSNI and gardai for the conference provided those present with an update into organised criminality on both sides of the border.

Meanwhile, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris described work in preparation for Brexit as "well advanced" and said it was set against a context of strong co-operation between both organisations, and strong relationships which have been built up.

“But we do require the legal underpinnings that allow us to share information, vehicles like the European Arrest warrant, all of those are important on the island of Ireland in terms of keeping people safe and the policing service that we provide.

“But we will be re-doubling our efforts around cross border strategy, looking to that and then identifying what we think maybe gaps in powers, gaps in policing powers that may open up, and how those can be addressed,” he said.

Commissioner Harris said that “the issues for us are the impact of anti-social behaviour, local crime and the extent of travel that there is backwards and forwards across the border, and how criminals may use that to facilitate their activities and all forms of criminality, and also then the threat from organised crime.”

“Our strategy is to work together to prevent crime,” he said.

The report looks at a wide variety of issues including human trafficking, money laundering, rural crime, and excise fraud.

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