Dubai: Families have handed over 365 drug addicts to Dubai Police since 2017, so they could receive treatment, an official said.
Brigadier Eid Mohammad Thani Hareb, director of Anti-Narcotic Department at Dubai Police, said that 160 drug addicts turned themselves in last year compared to 121 addicts in 2018 and 75 addicts in 2017.
“More people are stepping forward to report their addict family members to benefit from UAE’s drug law that gives parents the right to protect their children without legal action. Parents became more aware of the law,” said Brig Hareb.
He said the 40 addicts of the 160 cases last year were handed over to their families to put them in rehabilitation centres for treatment and were later discharged.
“Counsellors from the department sat with the young men and conducted regular medical check-ups for one year. Sometimes we make surprise calls for addicts to make the checks,” Brig Hareb added.
Major-General Khalil Ebrahim Al Mansouri, Assistant Commander-in-Chief for Criminal Investigation Affairs, said that the current law on the fight against narcotics and psychotropic substances is a positive step towards tackling the issue.
“Dubai Police has a major role in solving the issue not only to arrest drug dealers. We don’t want to put drug addicts in jails but to help them,” said Maj-Gen Al Mansouri.
The new law prohibits a criminal case being brought against drug users if they, or their family, notify the police or drug treatment unit.
If a drug user is handed over by the family to a rehabilitation centre, police or prosecutors, they face no penalty and will remain in treatment until the centre decides they can be released.
Meanwhile, Colonel Abdullah Matar Al Khayat, manager of Hemaya International Centre at Dubai Police, said parents need to inform the authority that their addict family member need treatment to benefit the law.
“Public should mention that their addicted loved one needs treatment, not only report him to police, so the addict can benefit from the law and receive treatment,” Col Al Khayat said.
Hemaya centre conducted several educational programs for the youngsters to raise their awareness about illegal drugs where 51,705 people enrolled in these workshops last year.
What the law says
Police said addicts can benefit from Article 43 of the Anti-Narcotics Law which exempts them from legal punishment if they or their families voluntarily hand themselves over to the police. They are also required to voluntarily hand over drugs in their possession to competent authorities. However, if addicts refuse treatment, they will face legal action.
About 2,166 questions and answers reached Hemaya smart application since being launched by Dubai Police last year.
The app aims to raise awareness about drugs and its devastating effects.
Colonel Al Khayyat, said the application is a digital platform that employs Artificial Intelligence to answer all questions related to the dangers of drug abuse.
“It can also help in detecting drug addicts and shows the locations of rehabilitation centres, in addition to highlighting the role of the family and parents in raising awareness about the dangers of drug abuse and providing specialised consultations to them,” Col Al Khayyat said.
The application also includes a number of electronic services that can help the UAE community. They include Amna, a highly intelligent chatbot for all inquiries about drug awareness.
The application also provides channels to report a drug dealer or ask for help, as well as answer all drug-related inquiries by children and parents.