Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim said reducing drug crime is vital for achieving overall safety and security Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: UAE has successfully combated drug crimes, with cases of new drug users plunging significantly since 2016, when a new anti-narcotics council was formed, a top official told the World Police Summit at Expo 2020 Dubai on Wednesday.

Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Deputy Chief of Police and Public Security in Dubai and Chairman of the UAE Anti-Narcotics Council, said the UAE National Strategy helped reduce drug crimes and subsequently achieved a decline in the death rate of overdose cases by 49 per cent since 2016.

“After the establishment of the UAE Anti-Narcotic Council in 2016, all police departments in the country joined hands to tackle drug crime. The rate of new drug users dropped by 24 per cent between 2016 and 2020 and dropped further by 11 per cent last year,” said Lt Gen Tamim in his keynote at a session on the third day of the summit, held at Dubai Exhibition Centre at Expo.

“We unified all efforts and indicators of arrest rates in drug cases reached 95 per cent. The achievements happened without burdening the country with more costs.”

He said the council created a data analysis system for drug-related cases. Based on studies in the UAE, 49 per cent of car thieves are drug addicts and 64 per cent of suspects who committed crimes such as assault, robbery and fights are also drug users. Around 19 per cent of serious traffic offenses such as reckless driving and driving without a licence are connected to drug addiction as well. Also, according to official figures, 25 per cent of missing person cases are linked to the use of drugs.

“Whoever wants to make their country safe like the UAE should reduce drug crime,” Lt Gen Tamim said.

International cooperation

He added that the summit is a great opportunity to strengthen bonds between the countries and exchange best practices to combat drug crimes. “With the rapid digital development and new ways of smuggling drugs, this summit will enhance the cooperation and exchange of experiences in policing.”

Lt Gen Tamim said that until 2018, the council had a “weak” international collaboration, but now they are working with more than 55 countries in exchanging information and arrests of drug traffickers.

Between 2018 and 2021, the arrests of 549 drug traffickers worldwide were made after the UAE shared 4,612 vital tip-offs with many countries.

“UAE has a very active international cooperation that reached many countries worldwide. We have intelligence reports about international drug dealers and traffickers that helped to arrest 549 suspects. The confiscated drugs amounted to more than 380 tonnes,” he added.

Lt Gen Tamim mentioned how the UAE cooperated with the Chinese authorities which resulted in seizing a ship in the South China Sea and confiscating 1.5 tonnes of drugs and the arrest of six suspects.

Another example was the arrest of 14 drug dealers in Pakistan in cooperation with the Pakistani authorities.

“The suspects were targeting the UAE in their drug trade and promotion activities.”

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He said that UAE Ministry of Interior won an award for best field information and operational cooperation in anti-narcotic efforts at the regional and international levels on sixth consecutive occasions, presented by the General Secretariat of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers.

Safeguarding schools

Lt Gen Tamim added that the council also focuses on increasing awareness in schools by training and qualifying teachers to detect drug abuse cases among students. “We issued a parents guide about substance abuse prevention as well as a guide for the school environment. We determined the procedure for dealing with suspected drug abuse cases in schools,” he said.

The council also organised sessions for parents to help them in protecting their children in cooperation with the Ministry of Community Development.