Anti-social behaviour reduced as 150 drug users targeted for help
Gardai in Dublin city centre have been working with drugs project workers to reduce anti-social behaviour.
A group of between 100 and 150 people are believed to be responsible for the bulk of anti-social behaviour, including begging and public injecting.
Under a new model, gardai and staff from the Ana Liffey Drug Project (ALDP) have been working with the most complex cases of street drug users to help move them into more stable settings, including treatment and better housing.
The pilot project, launched in 2014, has been reviewed for the first time and a number of positive results were found, including a reduction in anti-social behaviour.
The Assertive Case Management Team (ACMT) allowed drugs workers and gardai to share information about people who were identified as having complex issues such as mental or physical illness or a history of low-level crime.
A group of 59 people agreed to allow various organisations to share information about them.
Many of those who were involved in the pilot project were already well known to gardai.
The ACMT project was an acknowledgement that policing alone will not solve the problem of anti-social behaviour among drug users in the city, according to Garda Assistant Commissioner Jack Nolan.
Tony Duffin, ALDP director, told the Herald that the project had been "very positive".
"There was recognition that they [gardai] knew people and we knew people that needed help but we couldn't break that confidentiality without people's permission," he said.
"It had been feared that people might not want to get involved but for the most part everyone we approached were happy for us to do that.
"We worked with complex, hard-to-reach cases in the past 15 months. There was a lot of positives which came from working with the gardai and the HSE.
"It's a real hand-holding exercise which involved getting people to services, sometimes physically walking them to the door.
"The upshot is that we've seen a reduction in anti-social behaviour among that group of people.
"I appreciate that there is anti-social behaviour in the city centre but for this group [there was a reduction]."
In most cases, those helped by the case management team accessed more stable accommodation, reduced anti-social behaviour or had warrants executed.
Gardai who took part in the pilot said when clients were more open to speaking to them it was easier to deal with some of the legal issues.
Clients said that the ACMT team "opened doors" for them. Project funding has been allocated for another three years.