The World Health Organisation considers the phenomenon of illegal drugs a public health issue and one of the most serious problems that the international community has to tackle.
Since the earliest years of its establishment, the Republic of Cyprus has been used as a transit country for illegal addictive drugs, because of the prevailing political instability in the region. As a result, in order to tackle the phenomenon, it was considered necessary in 1969 to set up a DRUG LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICE at the Crime Investigation Department of Police Headquarters. This Office was later upgraded and renamed DRUG ENFORCEMENT SECTION and administratively it came under the various Police Divisions, while operationally it was part of the Drug Enforcement Division.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the rapid political developments in the East Mediterranean, such as the wars in Cyprus and Lebanon, resulted in Cyprus being used as a meeting place for smugglers, and its role as a transit station continued.
The social effects of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the rapid economic development of the island that followed during the 1980s, the increase of tourism, imports of new products from abroad, as well as other changes in Cypriot society, meant that the drugs phenomenon found fertile ground and spread rapidly.
From this period of Cypriot history onwards, the problem of the use of illegal substances by Cypriots with problematic behaviours increased in severity.
As a result of the above developments, on 14 February 1991, the Chief of Police renamed the section SERVICE FOR THE COMBATTING OF DRUGS, pursuant to sections 2 and 9 of the Police Act, Cap. 285.
Subsequently, on 1 May 2003, the Service was renamed the DRUG LAW ENFORCEMENT UNIT (DLEU), with a view to the equal coverage of all the services offered in order to tackle the drugs phenomenon in connection with reducing both supply and demand.
Today, because of its many serious effects on society and on individuals themselves, the problem of drugs is for the Police a matter of immediate and ongoing priority. It is an international problem, requiring common, balanced and comprehensive efforts by all social agencies. The various geopolitical, social, economic and technological developments at the broader international level contribute to the volatile and constantly changing nature of the phenomenon and as a result, efforts to tackle the problem present a serious challenge.