The ‘Irada’ centre in Al Khawaneej, Dubai
The ‘Irada’ centre in Al Khawaneej, Dubai. The centre was established in 2017 to treat and rehabilitate drug addicts. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Dubai Police helped 233 drug addicts in the last three years and referred them to rehabilitation centres without punishment, an official said.

Last year, about 104 young drug addicts were supported by Dubai Police’s programme called ‘Embrace’, compared to 79 addicts in 2017 and 50 addicts in 2016.

Major General Abdullah Khalifa Al Merri, Commander-In-Chief of Dubai Police, said the addicts arrested by police were given a second chance.

“They were consuming drugs for the first time in their lives, so we decided to give them a second chance after studying their cases and making sure they can be saved from addiction by transferring them to rehabilitation centres,” Maj Gen Al Merri said.

Police said the addicts benefited from Article 43 of the Anti-Narcotic Law, which exempts drug addicts from legal punishment if they voluntarily hand themselves to police, or if their families or friends report them to police.

15,698

students attended 152 workshops and lectures by Hemaya Centre last year

Addicts are also required to voluntarily hand over drugs in their possession to competent authorities. However, if addicts refuse treatment despite handing over the drugs, they will face legal action.

In 2016, Lt Gen Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, told the Federal National Council that drug addicts, both citizens and foreigners, who voluntarily turn themselves in and request treatment will face no criminal charges or deportation.

He was allaying concerns of members of the House about foreigners involved in drug abuse who were failing to turn themselves in and requesting treatment for fear of criminal charges and deportation.

Maj Gen Al Merri said: “We understand that drug addicts are patients and not criminals. The police programme embraced the young addicts and provide support to them.”

Colonel Abdullah Al Khayat, director of Hemaya International Centre, said they communicated with families of 529 addicts in the last three years to guide them how to deal with a drug addict, as well as provide support for the families.

“Dubai Police works to protect youngsters from drug addiction and to rehabilitate them. Embracing drug addicts and provide support will help them to return as a normal person in the society,” Col Al Khayat said.

He said that around 15,698 students attended 152 workshops and lectures by Hemaya Centre last year.

In 2017, the UAE established a rehab centre, called ‘Irada’, meaning ‘will’, dedicated to treating and rehabilitating drug addicts with the aim of supporting the UAE’s general strategy and policy to combating drug addiction and increase community awareness about their harmful effects.