160. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will report on the use of crack cocaine among the prison population; the number of persons who have access to detox beds in the medical units of each prison in each of the years 2016, 2017 and to date in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40710/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Irish Prison Service is committed to preventing, or reducing the flow of contraband into the prison estate, and has confirmed that the methods it uses to do so are under constant review.
I am advised by my officials in the Irish Prison Service that to date in 2018 there have been two documented instances of crack cocaine being found by Irish Prison Service staff.
It is the policy of the Irish Prison Service that where a person committed to prison gives a history of opiate use and tests positive for opioids, they are offered a medically assisted symptomatic detoxification, if clinically indicated. Prisoners can, as part of the assessment process, discuss with healthcare staff other treatment options, which may include stabilisation on methadone maintenance for persons who wish to continue on maintenance, while in prison and when they return to the community on release.
There are 27 beds in the Medical Unit, Mountjoy Prison, which are available to prisoners for slow detoxification and stabilisation. There are also 9 beds in this Medical Unit, which are available for a 9 week drug treatment programme. While there are strict criteria governing a patients admission to the drug treatment programme, the programme is open to prisoners for all locations in the prison estate.
The Irish Prison Service has advised that 80 prisoners participated in the drug treatment programme during 2016, 45 persons participated in 2017, and 45 persons have also participated in the programme to date in 2018.