Anti-drug efforts the first step in a comprehensive social safety net

  • Date: 2017-01-25

I. Background

Drug use is a threat to individual health, and human life itself. It often leads to public security issues including violence, theft and firearms-related crime, taking a heavy toll on families and society. But because drug use has become increasingly prevalent on school campuses over the past few years, the drug-using segment of the population is getting ever-younger, putting the entire young generation in jeopardy.

In response to this phenomenon, since taking office in May of 2016 the new government has made the war on drugs part of its overall policy agenda. These efforts are an important element in the administration’s five major social stability programs, which have made anti-drug campaigns the first step in establishing a comprehensive social safety net.

As of November 2016, vigorous government anti-drug efforts have processed 32,036 drug crimes with 34,560 suspects apprehended and over 3,200 kilograms of drugs seized.

Last year on December 1 and 2 police also seized over 50 kilograms of amphetamine (a Category 2 drug), and almost 220 kilograms of cocaine (Category 1)—the largest cocaine seizure in Taiwan history.

 

II. Create a comprehensive monitoring system to prevent drug crimes

A. Set up a national drug information database:

In November of 2016 the Ministry of the Interior rolled out a national drug information database, using big data to analyze drug distribution and transaction networks and draw up a comprehensive drug crime map. That map will help trace the flow of illegal drugs and enhance eradication efforts.

B. Use the drug prevention databank to draft anti-drug policies:

The government has analyzed and worked out its anti-drug policies utilizing the relevant legal, police, educational, and health and welfare data aggregated in the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s drug prevention databank.

C. Set up a drug prevention fund, and hold designated business places responsible for reporting drug-related irregularities:

In February of 2017 the Executive Yuan passed the proposed draft amendments to the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act that make designated business places responsible for preventing drug use and fostering a safe and clean entertainment environment, and establish a drug prevention fund that will enhance anti-drug efforts.

D. Establish an investigation data center:

The Taiwan High Prosecutors Office under the Ministry of Justice inaugurated an investigation data center on December 16, 2016.

 

III. Integrate anti-drug network to cut off drug supplies

A. Enforce tough anti-drug measures and confiscate drug-trafficking profits:

1. Since July 4, 2016 five anti-drug campaigns have been launched, with the first four campaigns resulting in the arrest of 1,152 drug dealers, seizure of over 2.2 metric tons of drugs (all categories), and removal of 11 narcotics factories, severely disrupting community drug rings.

In the fifth nationwide anti-drug campaign between December 22 and 25 of last year targeting new types of drugs, 1,653 cases were processed with 1,787 people arrested and over 130 kilograms of drugs seized.

2. Confiscate drug dealer profits from drug sales and expropriate illicit assets to prevent recidivism.

B. Actively pursue international information exchanges to prevent drugs from entering Taiwan:

1. Integrate the Customs Administration’s customs clearance databank and the National Police Agency’s criminal case databank to create a single window for information.
2. Upgrade customs search and seizure software and hardware to tighten up narcotics control and border management.
3. Step up exchanges of drug crime information with other countries, and proactively conclude agreements with various countries to jointly combat crime.

 

IV. Set up drug prevention and care networks on campuses

A. Drug prevention networks and care programs:

Employ pre-assessment mechanisms to identify high-risk individuals, combine probation, rehabilitation aftercare and local-government systems to care for high-risk drug users, and conduct follow-up corrective, tracking and guidance services.

B. Drug prevention programs targeting remote areas and campuses:
To reduce drug abuse by young people, the government is actively promoting the following:

1. Strengthen youth-oriented anti-drug publicity:

Use age group and target audience-based publicity activities to strengthen parent-child education, incorporate drug abuse prevention materials in school curriculums and provide better guidance about new types of drugs.

2. Provide rapid screening reagents for drug testing to make it easier for the public to conduct such tests.

3. Carry out interventions for youth drug users in high-risk groups:

Strengthen guidance for children, youth and families that use Category 3 and 4 drugs; offer subsidies for cities and counties to set up drug abuse consultation service corps; strengthen efforts to report and search for school dropouts and help them resume their studies.

4. Increase dedicated on-campus anti-drug manpower and offer relevant professional training.

5. Promote a “youth protection” project:
 
Track down and apprehend on-campus drug dealers and provide immediate care for youth involved with drugs.
 
6. Set up reporting networks for drug problems in remote areas, and improve campus reporting networks; have all schools advise the authorities of at least five popular teen hangouts to be subject to police patrols, and conduct at least 1,200 off-campus patrols every quarter.

 

V. Provide diversified treatment services to help drug users return to society

Help drug addicts who are not involved in selling drugs return to society through various addiction treatments and other services.

A. Boost self-confidence and the ability to return to society:

Improve addicts’ ability to return to society by providing comprehensive assistance including educational, medical, employment and family support, and upgrade rehabilitation center treatment capabilities for inmates.

B. Help with rehabilitation after discharge from correctional institutions:

Help young people discharged from correctional institutions enroll in educational institutions; offer guidance to designated drug addiction treatment hospitals so that they can provide services to addicts obligated to complete drug addiction treatment under a deferred prosecution disposition; assist drug addicts to return to their families; and promote services that help rehabilitated drug users return to society.

C. Upgrade drug treatment capabilities at rehabilitation facilities

Expand medical treatment programs for drug and alcohol addiction at correctional institutions, providing outpatient medical treatment, health education and psychological consultation services; employ more outside professionals (e.g., psychologists and social workers) in such institutions to provide drug addiction rehabilitation services; in conjunction with the amended Regulations Governing Out-of-Prison Labor by Inmates, include inmates incarcerated for drug offenses as candidates for such labor programs and encourage them to participate so they can adapt to life in the workplace before release.

 

VI. Conclusion

Illegal drug use has serious implications for individuals, families, society and the country as a whole. The government has therefore adopted a zero tolerance policy dedicated to wiping out illegal drugs, and has made preventing drug abuse a high priority in the quest to protect public order. It will also devote extensive resources and efforts to all aspects of this issue including proactive prevention, enforcement and rehabilitation to counter the dangers of drugs and create a broader, more seamless and more stable social safety net.