Belfast Telegraph

Council gives £20k boost for policing and safety in drugs battle

By Aaron Tinney

Thousands of pounds in extra cash is being given to fight a drugs scourge in the area where Caitlin White died.

Councillors on the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council have proposed adding an extra £20,000 to the budget for the policing and community safety team in the area.

The move comes after residents in Charles Park, Portadown - opposite the woodland where Caitlin collapsed before dying in hospital of a suspected overdose - warned that the area was a hotspot for teenagers taking a cocktail of alcohol and widely-available cheap drugs.

DUP councillor and youth worker Darryn Causby said the extra funding will help to stop the drugs blight on the area.

"This money will be used to support initiatives that will divert young people from risk-taking behaviours," he said.

"In tandem, the council will work to provide support to community and youth workers in the area to devise a longer term plan to try resolve these issues."

He added that the council had approved the request for extra money and will now work to set up a task force to provide additional support to the community.

Councillor Causby stressed the money will be used "borough-wide" as drugs issues were not contained to Portadown, and said he was looking forward to "getting initiatives rolled out as soon as possible".

He met with the PSNI the day after Caitlin's death to discuss what he described as a "severe drug problem" in the wider Craigavon area.

Speaking earlier this week, he said: "We need to have a meeting of minds to end this scourge, our communities are being destroyed.

"This needs to stop and people must bring information to the police."

As Caitlin's friends laid flowers and messages of support at the scene where she collapsed at newly-developed woodland near the Corcrain estate in Portadown, they told the Belfast Telegraph how easy it was to buy drugs in the area.

One said dealers that would deliver in only 10 minutes and residents said flocks of teenagers were using the place where Caitlin collapsed as an outdoor party spot.

One said: "The kids go there to drink and the police know all about it - there's about 50 of them all aged between 11 and 15.

"Something like this was bound to happen sooner or later."

Other residents said children as young as 11 are known to be regularly smoking cannabis in the area.

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