Garda chief voices concerns on growing impact of heroin

Discarded drugs paraphernalia at 'The Plots' in Woodquay, including a syringe, spoons and sterile water used for heroin injection. PHOTO: ENDA CUNNINGHAM

Galway City Tribune – Chief Superintendent Tom Curley has expressed concern about the increased incidence of heroin use in the West over the past year or so.

He said that Gardai in the Galway city area were coming across a greater use of heroin among drug addicts and this was always something to be wary of from a crime point of view.

“Heroin is so addictive, that it will without fail, lead to more crime and robberies as users try to fund their habit. There is a direct link between heroin usage and crime everywhere in the world,” said Chief Supt Curley.

He said however that this just wasn’t a Garda and crime issue, but that it needed a multi-agency approach to try and tackle the problem.

“Any individual on heroin will need serious intervention and help to try and get them off a drug that is utterly destructive and that will eventually lead to death.

“Of course, the Gardai have a very much hands-on approach in terms of detecting the sale, supply and usage of the drug but we are only part of the team in terms of providing a long-term solution to the problem,” said Chief Supt Curley.

He said that the Garda detections in relations to drugs had increased from 2016 to 2017, but not on a major scale, with 22 cannabis grow-houses detected in 2017 (up two on the previous year).

There were 145 detections for the sale of supply of drugs in 2017 – up 6% on the previous year – while there were 387 convictions for possession (own usage) of drugs.

“While there are small increases in the grow-houses and in those supplying and selling drugs, the ‘red alert’ for us is when we see an increase in heroin usage.

“It really is something that we try to stay on top of, but again I would stress that we need a comprehensive multi-agency approach to try and tackle the heroin problem,” said Chief Supt Curley.

He said that the drugs distribution scene also had to be monitored closely in terms of any organised crime links which involved a lot of liaison with national Garda units.

“I would say that as things stand, organised crime is not a major problem in the city, but you can never be complacent about those things.

“We do keep a very close eye on any indication of organised crime rings developing. The aim is always to try and nip them in the bud, but in general, Galway – both city and county – is a very safe place to live,” said Chief Supt Curley.