Swiss Drug Policy Study Tour
26 – 30 August 2014
Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) Policy Department, through the European Union-funded Asia Action Project, organised a four-day study tour to Zurich, Switzerland beginning 26 August 2014, with the aim of fostering knowledge exchange on Swiss drug policy and best practices.
Malaysian delegates who participated in the study tour were:
Delegates visited Arud Centres, Zurich Remand Centre, Security, Intervention and Prevention (SIP) Taskforce, and the Zurich City Police Department.
Located in Aussersihl and Stampfenbach, Arud Centres are drug treatment and HIV centres. Besides dispensing methadone, they also provide alternative psychosocial care, social and welfare services and counselling for families under one roof. Treatment facilities like these have contributed to the reduction of crime, and an improved quality of life and stability.
Zurich Remand Centre
A visit to Zurich Remand Centre (equivalent to police lockup in Malaysia) provided delegates with the opportunity to appreciate the importance of having healthcare staff in police custody to deliver medical services such as methadone maintenance antiretroviral therapies. The goal is to rehabilitate and reintegrate, and not just punish. Delegates were also briefed on the operations of the remand centre.
The SIP Taskforce consists 70 workers who walk through the city, preventing incidents that affect public order before the police arrive. They are multi-ethnic and multidisciplinary, ensuring that they are able to talk to and handle individuals of from diverse backgrounds. It is a governmental unit under the Social Affairs Department. Workers include social workers, ethnographers and counsellors. They interact daily with people on the street and work to ensure everyone can be safe in public places in Zurich.
Zurich City Police Department
Captain Beat Rhyner, Head Commissioner of Criminal Investigation Division presented on police work in Zurich and their role in drug treatment and harm reduction services. He reminisced of the growing drug epidemic in 80’s Zurich’s and how the police taskforce responded to it by fully supporting harm reduction. An evidence-informed public health approach as such succeeded at reducing drug-related crimes and eliminating open and public drug injection.