Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Solvent abuse fear grows as 60 canisters uncovered

Local police have stepped up the fight to reduce solvent abuse among young people after 60 or more used gas canisters were discovered on fields behind a Bangor estate.

Karen Worrall, a local community worker who discovered the canisters while walking her dog on fields behind Crochan Court last Saturday (March 19), told the Community Telegraph: “This was quite a problem on the Rathgill estate and surrounding areas for the last year and it was disturbing to find so many on Saturday. These were fresh cans, it looks like they were used all on the same day.

“We have done so much work in the area, alerting local businesses who sell these kind of products not to sell them to young people and not sell numerous cans to just one person — and they have listened. However, there seems to be other places, not in the immediate area, determined to sell volumes of gas lighter refills over the counter. They must know those buying such quantities aren’t doing it to refill their cigarette lighters.”

The gas cylinders discovered were London Universal Butane Gas Lighter Refill that are known to be a product sold in a chain of national pound shops — one located at nearby Bloomfield shopping centre.

A police spokesperson said: “It was reported to police that a quantity of used aerosol cans were found on waste ground in the Rathgill area on Monday morning (March 21).

“Inquiries are continuing and neighbourhood police spoke to a number of shop owners to remind them to use discretion when selling such products. They were reminded to revert to the ‘one can, one person' policy when dispensing these goods.”

CPNI leader Mark Gordon, who has helped rehabilitate drug users for over a decade, said: “The amount of used cans found over the weekend isn’t surprising considering how much community workers in the area have been highlighting the problem for years now. The main media only get involved when there has been a death, but it’s now when we need to get this information out there — before another life is lost.

“The shops selling these are going to have to stop putting profit over people’s lives.

“It’s vital parents know the symptoms of solvent abuse — red nose, sores around the mouth, strong smell of chemicals from clothes and breath, glary, bleary eyes and slurred speech.

“What’s even more important is that parents know where to go when they recognise such signs. Community workers in these areas have direct links with the charity FASA , the drugs and suicide awareness charity, who are the first port of call on the road to help and we make many referrals as well as carry out crisis intervention. Your local community worker is here to signpost you when you need help.”

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