Drugs strategy going nowhere
By Leo Olivero
Former Police Superintendent
An the 7 October, PANORAMA published an interview with the Government's Drug Strategy Co-ordinator Mr. John Montegriffo, who described the local drug situation that great, that it completely occupied all of his time. There was no great secret when he mentioned in his interview that Alcohol was the number one problem drug in Gibraltar, followed by Cannabis, Cocaine, Amphetamines, and the abuse of prescription drugs and tobacco.
In this interview Mr Montegriffo described the drug issue as a serious problem particularly Alcohol abuse, and gave account of the Governments Drug Strategy and how well it was working including the fact that he had full support of the Government including that of his boss, the Minister for Social Affairs.
On the 21 October hot on the heals of Mr Montegriffo’s interview, we were treated to another interview in this newspaper, this time by the Minister for Social Affairs. This Minister has the responsibility for the implementation of the Governments Drugs Strategy and heads most things that are socially orientated in the community. I thought the interview itself gave a very poor account and appeared to lack understanding on most things in relation to these important and serious social matters like the Abuse of Drugs and Anti-Social Behaviour problems.
The Minister in her interview failed to mention anything regarding the current drug problem in Gibraltar. She completely neglected to make any reference concerning the Governments Drug Strategy. She even forgot the fact that according to Mr Montegriffo’s in his interview he said, when referring to the drug strategy, ‘that things were falling into place’, and that according to him, ‘we were getting there,’ this Mr. Montegriffo said when referring to his view of the success so far of the drug strategy. Mr. Montegriffo then said as if pleading for people to come forward, ‘that he wished people would come out publicly and say how much the Drug Strategy had helped them’.
The impression given by Mr. Montegriffo was that a large amount of people had actually felt the full potential and benefit of the drug strategy so far, although these unknown numbers of people were only known to him and a selected few including the Minister, I would presume.
It must have been gut wrenching for Mr. Montegriffo to have read 14 days later his Minister’s interview where she not only omits any mentioned on the serious drugs situation in Gibraltar, but fails to mention anything at all about the drugs strategy including the successes so far, this as intimated by Mr.Montegriffo in his own interview. If there was anyone who could have given the strategy any level of support and public credibility in confirming how well and effective the strategy had worked so far, it could only had come from the Minister herself, so much for the full support of the Government, Mr. Montegriffo thought he had.
In my last article last week, I wrote my views on the Minister’s interview and how I think she is out of touch with serious social elements affecting this community, this in areas of Anti-Social Behaviour, Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco abuse.
These two interviews by the Minister for Social Affairs and the Governments Drug Co-ordinator in this newspaper only confirm a total lack of co-ordination, communication, and understanding that exist firstly between themselves and in relation to these serious social matters, all this between the people supposedly heading this strategic drug abuse programme.
It really corroborates what I have been saying all along, this in numerous articles I have written on the subject of drugs these last two years. The implementation, development and delivery of the Governments Drug Strategy has been a slap happy attempt in implementing a document, which is now out of date and not in keeping with current drugs and social trends.
Not even the Minister leading the drug strategy implementation process could REMEMBER in an important public interview to give this one and only, first ever-publicly orientated important social programme in combating the misuse of drugs in Gibraltar a mention of any kind, THAT’S THE IMPORTANCE THE DRUG PROBLEM IS GIVEN by the people who are there and who have the power to make a difference. If this issue were not such a serious matter, this whole charade, would be a joke.
It is infuriating for me to continue reading and hearing people connected with the implementation of the Government Drug Strategy saying how well the strategy is doing and how many people, (no numbers ever mentioned) it has helped. I find it an insult to the intelligence of this community, for these people who are being paid with taxpayers money, to continue trying to convince the public that the Drug Strategy is making any kind of inroad in combating the drugs problem in Gibraltar.
This community is continuously being fed with the usual slow laxative verbal dose of, ‘we're looking into it, legislation is being drafted and on its way’ crap, which is a SURE trade mark that very little is being done, this has less credence with me, then believing that the story of Peter Pan is really true.
What does it take to legislate laws, particularly on issues of important Social Matters. The legislation of the new Alcohol law has been on the cards that long now; it is becoming folklore rather then any modern law. A change in the licensing legislation has been muted that many times, that Alcohol could seriously be out of fashion, if and when, this legislation is ever passed.
How can the Government now curb the serious increase in the abuse of Alcohol consumption particularly with the young, when it opened the doors to practically all night drinking when they promoted the opening of Casemates Square as a Fashionable Drinking Sanctuary, this with no holds barred.
DANGEROUS TOBACCO PROBLEM
Tobacco fares no better, we have a dangerous tobacco problem, this is not only a serious health issue but also one that is on par with the general drug problem.
In Gibraltar instead of dealing with the matter head on, things like introducing an effective tobacco law, banning tobacco advertisement all over Gibraltar and more importantly not having part of the Gibraltar’s economy dependent on the sales of tobacco due to the outrageously low and embarrassing tax regime,
No, what do we do, on our little Rock, you guessed, NOTHING.
My view is that it is highly hypocritical to allow the sale of Alcohol and Tobacco both of which cause massive damage to peoples health and at the same time profess concern about the abuse of drugs situation. It is also expected by some simple minds, that this lame attempt at implementing this Drugs Strategy a document that is now nearly 4 years out of date with current drug trends, to be successful.
How can anyone take the Drug Strategy and anyone connected with it seriously, when all these things, which have a serious effect on the abuse of drugs in Gibraltar, continue unabated?
How can all those agencies connected with the implementation of the Drug Strategy, the Police, Health Promotions, GHA, Education Dept, Youth Services and Social Services and others, put their hand on their hearts and say that this Drug Strategy, is Strategically focused, is up to date, is intelligence led. Meets all our current requirements, and is actually working and making a difference, if they are honest, none of them.
An independent review of the drugs strategy and the local drugs problem, would throw up in my view, a mountain of new structures, aims, principles, and fresh direction. All this I am sure would form part of a new and up dated, realistic, focused and strategically driven and meaningful Drug Strategy, and not one which has presently been turned into a farcical and Pig headed attempt to deal with an issue of social concern and importance, which has the potential to destroy so many in this community.
The environment and structures for the current drug strategy to succeed is just not there anymore. Continuing with whatever format this drug strategy is being delivered at present will just not work, society and drug trends have moved on, the present drug strategy is pitching its efforts at drug problems that were there in 2002, the current strategy has remained in a time warp.
I really had the intention in this article to comment for the benefit of the drug strategy implementers, on those areas where I thought they had gone wrong and on areas, they should be focusing on. The best way I can help them, the Minister and the Government is to keep these comments short and to the point, although some, I may hasten to add, may prefer me to keep quiet altogether.
The message from me to all of you involved in the Drug Strategy is simple: Please Start Again, Get up Dated, Get Organised, Take the Strategy to the Community, Gibraltar Deserves Better, And One More Thing, Don’t Take too Long about It, ENOUGH TIME HAS BEEN LOST ALREADY.
The Armando LaGrande column
What can be more nationalistic than the anachronistic
Spanish claim, senor Pons...
It is good to see that a Spanish Government official, Jose
Pons, has attacked nationalism, which can only mean that he
is attacking the nationalism that reigns supreme in his own
country, no better epitomised than by their nationalist,
expansionist claims in seeking to take over Gibraltar - lost
by them three centuries ago!
As I say, what can be more nationalistic than their policy
And when he talks about fear, he must also be referring to
the Spanish Government who are so fearful about anything to
do with Gibraltar - they are afraid of little Gibraltar, how
Pons is the guy who is involved in the negotiations over
Gibraltar with Caruana and Chilcott. On Friday he gave a
lecture in Algeciras as part of the University of Cadiz,
which was published in Campo media as it was open to all,
even if the Chronicle think it was another 'scoop' for them,
like the non-journalistic scoop over Trafalgar!
GIBRALTARIANS ARE THOSE IN SAN ROQUE!
Oh dear. In putting things in their proper perspective, Pons
says that it is right for San Roque to call itself "Ciudad
de San Roque, donde reside la de Gibraltar", meaning that it
is the population of San Roque, and not that of Gibraltar,
who are the real Gibraltarians. How friendly can he be!
He again said that the isthmus is not of British
sovereignty, which is just as well that he says so because
it shows just how dangerous it is for Gibraltar to make
concessions over a territory which the Spaniards think is
not British. Caruana take note!
WHY IS SPAIN AFRAID OF TAKING IT TO COURT?
I say, and others have said so before me, that if the
Spaniards think that the isthmus is Spanish territory they
should have no qualms about taking the issue to the
International Court of Justice, as the British Government
proposed many decades ago.
If Pons and others think they are right, why are they so
afraid of allowing an international court to rule? That
would be the proper and civilised way of handling such a
matter, don't you agree?
SENDING US THE GUARDIA CIVIL, OH DEAR!
And what the whole of Gibraltar must detest is the notion
put forward by Pons about sending para-military forces into
Gibraltar to recover the Rock, if Utrecht was not there. Not
even Franco would say that! In fact, because it is a fact,
Franco used to say that Gibraltar was not worth a war,
remember dear Pons?
While we are on about military conquests, Pons should ask
the Catalans what do they think of the Spanish military
invasion of Catalonia which destroyed what they call their
The joint sovereignty plans of 2002 he describes as Spain
'never having been so close' to taking a slice of
sovereignty "frustrated by circumstances such as the
referendum" in Gibraltar.That's what he said.
Spain has now changed tactics, he told the Spanish audience
in Algeciras. Tactics to regain sovereignty, what else!
TELL THAT TO CARUANA!
And by the way, Pons says that Gibraltar is not a nation. He
should tell that to his friend Caruana who keeps referring
to Gibraltar as our nation and our country.
Esta la cosa mas lia que un lio...
Que confused esta tocto, my dear Cloti.
I thought that eso de los diverted flights had been resolved a year
ago, y ahora resulta que fue un false alarm, or who knows what.
Pue yo no estoy surprised ni mucho meno, Cynthia mia, porque it has
always been like that, los Spanish dicen una cosa and we say
something else, como para hacer un airport arreglito, ya ve que
Es como lo del ferry con Algebras. El Hopposition reminded us the
other day que el Spanish Governation paso hasta una ley to resume
the service, y de eso hace about 20 years, so there you are.
Es que el forum de las tres patas puede ser un mete pata, y todo
termina peor, if we are not careful.
Y el Ping-Pons was in the Campo the other day, y dijo que tenia
esperanza que se arreglara los Spanish pensions.
Pues tu sabes lo que dice my great grandfather, que si los Spanish
have their pensions updated, pues que también quiere que his pension
should also be updated. It cannot be a one-way affair.
Claro, y que se entere el Chilcotta que el lio de los pensions was
of the making of El Howe who agreed to it without consulting al
Gibraltar Governation at the time.
Es que nadie is consulting anyone anymore, my dear. Mira el lio que
hay about las monstrosidades que quieren hacer en el South District,
sale un tender for one thing and before you know it they add a
couple of plots of land to it, que te parece?
Pues que la banda esta borracha, what else? Y mientras tanto,
empiezan a buscar los buried treasures pa el EastSide development.
Espero que they don't find oil, porque entonces es cuando se arma el
dos de mayo, porque dirán los de Madrid que all that is part of the
And in the air, no solo problemas con lo de los diverted aeroplanos,
pero tanbien con lo de los pájaros y el benzene.
No me hables que tenemos el benzene mas alto de Uropa, todo un
record, y los health authorities mas tranquilo que Hila.
Anyway, si quieres un part-time job to pass the time away, manda tu
aplication pa Deputy Marriage Registrar. And don't forget to read el
Emergency booklet for if the flies. Ta, ta for now.