The drugs issue in Upper Bann is at ‘crisis’ point with people becoming seriously ill and dying.
According to DUP MLA Sydney Anderson, who obtained statistics of a soaring drugs problem in Upper Bann, there is a ‘genuine drugs crisis which is inflicting real damage in our local area’.
He said: “Tragically, in recent years numerous people in Upper Bann have lost their lives because of drugs and many families have been devastated.”
Chief Inspector Paul Reid said: “Crisis is a strong word however for any family who has to watch someone they love suffer because of drugs, it is the only word to describe it.”
Mr Anderson told the Mail that between May 2014 and May 2015 there were 453 drug related incidents reported to the PSNI across the Portadown, Craigavon, Lurgan, Banbridge and Gilford areas.
Lurgan had the highest drug-related incidents reported (136) followed by Banbridge (121) and Portadown (119).
Mr Anderson said: ““I am overwhelmed to learn that over 450 drug related incidents were reported to the PSNI over the past year. This clearly highlights that there is a genuine drugs crisis which is inflicting real damage in our local area. Tragically, in recent years numerous people in Upper Bann have lost their lives because of drugs and many families have been devastated. Sadly, it is not only our own local area but many places across Northern Ireland which have been deeply scarred by drug related incidents.
“It is vital that the community as a whole unite together to fight this drug problem head on. In particular the PSNI, the new ABC Policing and Community Safety Partnership, local schools, youth organisations and other community groups have an important duty to challenge the problems drugs pose to our society. I know that the PSNI in the area have done much work to fight this drug problem and in recent years they have been successful in dismantling numerous drug making factories. They have also helped to develop programmes to raise awareness of the effects of drugs and the risks they carry.
“Additionally, I am aware that local schools and youth organisations have devoted time and resources to drug awareness education which has helped to increase young people’s understanding of drug misuse and how they can lead healthy lifestyles. The pro-active approach adopted by the police, schools, and other organisations has to be welcomed and encouraged wholeheartedly.”
“Moving forward it is vital that the PSNI’s commitment to fighting the local drugs crisis continues and also schools, youth groups and other community organisations continue to work effectively to challenge drug misuse. We as a society cannot afford to brush this drug epidemic under the carpet. Instead we must face this serious problem head on and we must be committed to ensuring the drug dealers who peddle drugs in our local communities are imprisoned for their destructive activities. I would urge anyone who has any knowledge of criminal activity or concerns about suspicious actions to contact the PSNI to help them combat the local drugs scourge.”
Chief Inspector Paul Reid said: “The misuse of drugs has always been a concern for police and as Mr Anderson points out we have worked tirelessly to increase drug seizures, increase arrests and interrupt the supply chain.
“Crisis is a strong word however for any family who has to watch someone they love suffer because of drugs it is the only word to describe it.
“Mr Anderson is also correct in promoting a partnership approach to effectively tackle the issue of drugs. We will continue to play our part in preventing and detecting drug related crime by working with our local PCSP, our other partner agencies and concerned communities.
“I will echo Mr Anderson’s appeal to the public to contact us with any information they may have. Local information has enabled us to make seizures of drugs, make arrests and provide support to communities where it is most needed. If you have information or concerns about drugs please contact us on 101.”