Binge drug taking has become “commonplace” in Gibraltar, heightening concerns about a nightlife scene in which youngsters are increasingly exposed to “a potentially fatal cocktail” of hard drugs and alcohol.
The stark message came from Ian McGrail, the Commissioner of the Royal Gibraltar Police, during a wide-ranging and frank interview with the Chronicle after four months in the post.
Mr McGrail reflected on the tough law enforcement challenges facing the RGP and Gibraltar as a whole, including protecting this community from the threat of terrorism and bolstering the Rock’s capability to respond to the humanitarian migration crisis in this region.
But Mr McGrail’’s warning on the rampant drug scene in Gibraltar will ring alarm bells for authorities and prompt tougher measures at entry points.
“The drugs scene in Gibraltar is not good,” he told the Chronicle.
“Whereas in the past people might go on a binge drinking session, nowadays it includes hard drugs.”
“Right now, MDMA [better known as ecstasy], cocaine and even ketamine are smacking us really hard in the face.”
“It’s not just that it’s against the law, it brings on public safety concerns.”
“And if you start mixing alcohol and hard drugs, it’s a potentially fatal cocktail.”
“We’re talking about youths here, 17 and 18 year old people, and therefore I’ve got serious concerns.”
Mr McGrail said the drugs problem was not just a criminal issue but, at its core, a public health problem that should be tackled holistically through a multi-agency approach designed, wherever possible, to help users escape from a cycle of drugs and criminality.
But he spoke too of the “free availability” of drugs in Gibraltar and said more needed to be done to control the entry points and detect those who are smuggling illicit substances for local consumption.
“These drugs are imported into Gibraltar, they come through our entry points,” Mr McGrail said.
Gibraltar is a small community and police and other law enforcement agencies have a good idea who the local suppliers are.
But in the digital age, dealers are increasingly hard to corner without specialist tools and the legislation to use them.
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