A NEW battle to beat drug dealers on the streets of Northern Ireland has been mounted by police in the wake of a 10% rise in drug seizures last year.
As of this Monday, September 17, local officers had seized drugs with an approximate value of almost -pound;90,000 and have made 38 arrests in relation to drugs offences during 56 planned searches throughout North and West Belfast.
This increase in activity against drugs, which has been going on since August 20, is part of Operation Torus which is aimed at tackling street-level drug dealing across Northern Ireland. The types of drugs seized during the local operation have included cannabis, herbal cannabis, cocaine and prescription drugs.
Since August 20, police have conducted 1,142 searches, seized -pound;287,781.25 worth of drugs, and have arrested 198 people throughout Northern Ireland.
The operation combines police action against drug dealers on the ground with a media campaign designed to encourage people to report drug dealing.
'A' District Crime Manager, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Little, explained: "We know that street-level drug dealing is an issue of concern to the local community here in North and West Belfast and tackling it is a local priority.
"Drugs bring misery to individuals, families and communities and we are working hard to disrupt and arrest those involved in the sale and supply of drugs in this area.
"In recent weeks, local officers have carried out a series of successful searches in the local areas and have taken a large quantity of illegal drugs off our streets and out of circulation.
"We will continue in our robust efforts to disrupt and arrest those involved in the sale and supply of drugs, bring individuals before the courts and work with communities and partner agencies to reduce the threat of harmful and illegal activity."
DCI Little said it was vital that the local community also play their part.
"Parents need to be responsible, they need to know where their children are and what they are doing.
"Young people who take illegal drugs may get into dangerous situations or activities that they would not normally dream of doing. It may also lead to a criminal record which can damage employment and travel prospects. In addition, this type of behaviour has the potential to seriously affect the quality of life for many residents in this area.
"My message is clear and simple: if you see or know of anyone who is dealing drugs in your local area, then pick up the phone and contact your local Neighbourhood Policing Team on 0845 600 8000 or alternatively contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."
Welcoming the initiative, policing Board Chair Brian Rea commented: "The issue of 'street dealing' is one which is regularly raised at Board and local community level.
"Drug dealing damages communities and these dealers often prey on young people and those who are most vulnerable."
Commending police for recent "success in tackling drugs crime", Mr Rea added: "The community often know who the street dealers are and I support the call for the public to pass any information they have to the PSNI or through Crimestoppers."