THE Police Service of Northern Ireland has launched a new initiative to tackle street-level drug dealing across Northern Ireland.
Operation Torus is a new battle front to disrupt and arrest drug dealers and is also aimed at encourage people to report information to the Police.
The Operation combines a media campaign which incorporates billboards, Facebook and washroom advertising and will run until October and is set against a backdrop of a 10% increase in drug seizures.
Since being launched, police within North Down, Ards Castlereagh and Down had arrested 39 people following 86 searches which netted drugs - including cannabis and herbal cannabis, amphetamine and prescription drugs worth up to -pound;7000, as well as -pound;1000 in cash.
District police commander Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw said the drugs issue was being taken "very seriously".
"We want to build upon the hard work of Operation Torus and we will continue to work with community groups, political representatives, churches and schools to educate young people and to raise awareness around the dangers associated with drug taking and the impact drugs can have not only on your health but on your whole life.
"Young people who take illegal drugs or who misuse prescription medication may place themselves in dangerous situations or activities that they would not normally dream of doing," he said. "This type of behaviour has the potential to seriously affect the quality of life for many residents in your community. It may not only affect your health, but also your job opportunities or getting into University if you have a criminal record."
He further appealed to local people to inform police if they were aware of drug dealing in their own local community. "The more co-operation we can get from our community the better equipped we are to disrupt the activities of drug dealing criminals who are involved in the sale and supply of drugs and bring these individuals before the courts.
"Our message today is clear and simple: if you see or know of anyone who is dealing drugs in your local area, then contact your local police on 0845 600 8000 or alternatively you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111 and pass on any details that you may have.
Policing Board Chair Brian Rea has welcomed the PSNI initiative. "Drug dealing damages communities and these dealers often prey on young people and those who are most vulnerable.
"With the number of drugs seizures having increased by 10% in the past year and the number of people arrested rising, the PSNI are having success in tackling drugs crime. Drug dealing is big business and we want to see the police take action against those involved at all levels of the drugs chain."