The Malta Independent 22 December 2014, Monday

Drug abuse high among youngsters; urine testing for prisoners, staff

Malta Independent Thursday, 4 July 2013, 14:54 Last update: about 7 months ago

Home Affairs Minister Manuel Mallia this afternoon said he has given instructions for urine tests to be carried out on prisoners as well as prison staff, as part of the fight against drug use and his pledge to eliminate drugs from prison.  

Dr Mallia spoke during the first in a series of seminars on perspectives of the legal system and drug addiction recovery, during which several government officials met with representatives from Sedqa, Caritas, Oasi, the police, probation officers, a magistrate and a number of lawyers.

The initiative to hold such discussions came from Vicky Scicluna a Sedqa social worker.

The elimination of drugs is among the priorities of the prison reform.

Speaking earlier, Family and Social Solidarity Minister Marie Louise Coleiro Preca said indicators from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, show that drug use is high among school age children in Malta.

Some 4% of the students under study used cocaine when the maximum use of the drug among the same cohort in the EU is 5%. Another 3% use ecstasy when the EU maximum is 4%. This shows a problem that needs to be addressed while prevention work must be strengthened, said Family and Social Solidarity Minister Marie Louise Coleiro Preca.

She was addressing the first in a series of seminars on perspectives of the legal system and drug addiction recovery, during which several government officials met with representatives from Sedqa, Caritas, Oasi, the police, probation officers, a magistrate and a number of lawyers.

Mrs Coleiro Preca spoke of the need to empower students to make the right choices and addressing the cause that lead to drug abuse.

She also highlighted instructions given to the National Commission against Drug Abuse to revisit the 2008 policy by the end of the year, since the dynamics of the sector have changed. She also pointed out that the drugs court can be a means that helps drug users and results in a care plan being drawn up.

The Commission is also to carry out a national survey that should give a clearer picture of the drug situation in Malta.

The Parliamentary Secretary responsible for Justice, Owen Bonnici, highlighted that the Judiciary Review Commission, presided over by Judge Giovanni Bonello, spoke of the need for drug addicts to be given different treatment than other criminals. 

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