EU drugs conference highlights cooperation between police and social and health authorities
Representatives of EU countries, applicant countries, Norway, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus are holding a two-day conference in Turku, 6-7 September, at which different forms of cooperation in efforts to cut the harm caused by drugs are being presented. Finland, which currently holds the EU Presidency, has organised the conference in cooperation with the EU Commission and the Council of Europe.
In addition to border control and stopping organised crime, targeted measures directed at drug users are needed. The Turku conference is seeking to develop cooperation in working groups, which are dealing with issues of fieldwork, low threshold services, treatment guidance, and the prevention of infectious diseases related to intravenous drug abuse.
Police, social and health work traditionally emphasise different approaches to drug issues. In order to achieve results, these authorities need to act jointly and to have a common outlook. The prevention of drug-related harm can be more effectively improved by increasing the interaction of social, police, training and organisations. The responsibility of the public and families in preventing drug problems is decisive.
The Council of Europe and its Pompidou group is an important partner of the EU in work on tackling drugs. The EU wants to intensify cooperation with Russia, and during the Finnish Presidency cooperation on drugs will be started with Ukraine. The Turku conference is also seeking to support measures by the EU and its neighbour countries aimed at preventing HIV.
A further aim of the conference is to create a network of European cities. The network will be used to exchange experiences gained in different countries in carrying out projects. The aim is that through concrete cooperation a joint step can be taken towards a safer and more humane Europe.
Humanitarian action is an advantage for all
The prevention of the exclusion of drug addicts can be achieved by providing for their social welfare and health. This will also increase overall safety, prevent crime and the spread of infectious diseases, such as HIV. Police encounter drug users on the street, and this is a primary partnership in reducing the harm caused by drug use and in providing treatment guidance. The humanitarian treatment of and help for drug users are in the common interest.
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health: Ministerial Adviser Tapani Sarvanti, cell 050 5535534, Project Coordinator Toivo Hurme, cell 050 5245 7966, Ministerial Counsellor on Health/Medical Affairs Merja Saarinen, cell 050 5634 796.
Ministry of the Interior: Police Senior Officer Reijo Pöyhönen, cell 0500 478413 and Police Administrative Officer Stefan Gerkman, cell 050 557 6004.