Faced with new challenges presented by new psychoactive substances (NPS), Government is moving ahead with the establishment of an early warning system for Barbados.
The implementation of such a system would allow for electronic data-gathering and sharing, so that substances could be detected immediately and the relevant agencies determine their composition, effects and the likely spread or availability on the island.
Minister of Home Affairs, Edmund Hinkson, highlighted this as he addressed the opening ceremony for a training workshop on the global Synthetic Drug Monitoring Programme: Analysis, Reporting and Trends (SMART) Programme for local law enforcement practitioners and agencies involved in the drug fight at the Regional Police Training Centre on Monday.
“Implementing an early warning system in Barbados will allow for the early detection and monitoring of an NPS; inform approaches to drug education and prevention; and guide policy and legislative frameworks on new drugs,” Mr. Hinkson said.
He added that the National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA) had made strides in implementing the early warning system.
This, he said, included the hosting of meetings of representatives of Demand and Supply Control sectors, and establishing a Technical Oversight Committee to manage the work of the early warning system.
“These training sessions can only add yet another layer of skill development for members from various stakeholder groups on identification of Synthetics Drugs/Precursors and Security Measures,” he said.
Manager at the NCSA, Betty Hunte, also noted that the workshop would provide an excellent opportunity to improve on the efforts already made.
“[At present], we cannot really identify trends, but this mechanism, called the early warning system that is being set up, will help us to do that going forward,” she said, stressing that it was important to get ahead of the challenges from now.
About 60 persons, including representatives from the Royal Barbados Police Force, the Barbados Defence Force, the Probation Department, Customs Department and other enforcement agencies, are attending the three-day workshop.
It is being hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Canadian High Commission and the NCSA.