Together Gibraltar recognises the adverse effects that drug and alcohol misuse exacts upon our community at all levels. We acknowledge that there is no one solution, but rather a series of coordinated measures across various areas involving health, law enforcement, education and social services. With all this in mind our policy focuses on robust measures against those involved in the supply of illicit substances, and a series of tailored responses to support individuals and families who are suffering from the consequences of drug misuse.
The Drugs Advisory Council, a statutory body, has only convened on a few occasions under the present administration. Together Gibraltar will give greater emphasis to this Council, to enable it to develop effective responses and policies, based on emerging evidence and best practice.
We are committed to reviewing the current classification of drugs, and how they are dealt with under our laws. At this time, Together Gibraltar does not support the legalisation of drugs for recreational use. However, we will decriminalise possession of small amounts of cannabis. We will task the Drugs Advisory Council with keeping this under review in light our international obligations and work of other jurisdictions in adopting alternative responses to address substance abuse.
Drug Rehabilitation Panel
Together Gibraltar believes that drug related crime in our community can be dealt with in a more effective manner that can divert persons from progressing to more harmful behaviours. We recognise that drug abuse is a health issue that needs to be addressed, but the focus of the system is excessively punitive. A criminal record for possession of a small amount of cannabis can forever stifle a person’s chances of progress - an impact we believe to be counterproductive. We will therefore pilot this programme by decriminalising cannabis possession.
The Ministry for Health will be responsible for leading in this field. Persons caught with small amounts of cannabis (the amount of which will be clearly specified in law) will be referred to a Drug Rehabilitation Panel, comprising experts in the field. This panel will be fully legislated for and will be given powers to address low level users and make decisions on whether to refer them to a rehabilitation programme or impose penalties.
Together Gibraltar is committed to a root and branch review of Drug Rehabilitation services. These will be integrated within the Health Ministry. We strongly believe in investing in these as significant social harms and costs to the public purse can be prevented by targeted programmes and early interventions. We are committed to ensuring that those needing access to drug rehabilitation services, as well as their families, are able to access these with minimum delay. We will:
Review staffing levels and resources to allow for the delivery of an effective service.
Focus on persons recovering from addictions being able to lead rewarding, productive lives by developing more rehabilitation services within the community to bolster the existing residential programme, in conjunction with the statutory and voluntary sectors. These measures would extend to those serving prison sentences.
Ensure that any Criminal Justice responses include elements of rehabilitation and that these are properly resourced to provide credible punishment alternatives. The take up of the courts in this respect has been far too low to date.
Together Gibraltar believes there should be specialised drug enforcement teams within our law enforcement agencies where these may have been diluted due to other pressing priorities. We will:
Identify with the RGP and HM Customs to explore the resources they allocate to this area and what needs to be put in place to enable officers to carry out their duties more effectively.
Pay particular attention to alcohol and young persons and support the law enforcement agencies to ensure that the illegal procurement of alcohol to underage persons in strictly adhered to.
Together Gibraltar will spare no effort to ensure that our young persons be given the opportunities to develop their lives to their full potential. We recognise that drug and alcohol misuse pose a significant threat to them. We will:
Develop programmes based on proven best practices in consultation with all stakeholders in the field of public health, education, youth and social services to ensure that young persons are empowered to make healthy life choices.
Ensure that education on the dangers of drug use takes place at an early stage in our schools and other organisations working with young people. To this end we will ensure that the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders are suitably staffed with trained educators, social workers, probation officers and other relevant staff in order to ensure that our youth are educated on the risks of drugs misuse. We recognise that education is one of the most powerful long-term tools to address the drug problem.