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Northern Ireland drug seizures double in decade

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

Published 12/09/2016

Drug seizures have hit a 10-year high in Northern Ireland, say police
Drug seizures have hit a 10-year high in Northern Ireland, say police

Drug seizures have hit a 10-year high in Northern Ireland, say police.

Some 5,597 incidents were recorded in the last financial year - more than double a decade ago - and up almost 500 on the previous year.

Cannabis was by far the most commonly recovered drug, with 4,445 total seizures, with benzodiazepines (prescription drugs), mainly diazepam, in the next highest category at 614 seizures.

Cocaine was found during 566 police raids.

Detective Chief Superintendent Andrea McMullan, who leads the PSNI fight against drugs and organised crime, said: "While we seize cocaine, it is not the major drug of choice in Northern Ireland. That still remains cannabis and the prescription drugs."

A total of 182.4 kilos of cannabis resin were taken off the streets by police between April 2015 and March of this year - a sharp increase on the previous year.

That includes 164 kilos of the drug found in one major raid in the Newry area.

However, police recorded a significant drop in the number of so-called cannabis farms and nearly 5,000 fewer cannabis plants were seized compared to 2014/15.

Ms McMullan said: "We are at a 10-year high in relation to the number of drug seizures and in relation to the amount of drugs seized.

"We have better structures now, but there are also higher levels of community confidence in policing, which means more information is being passed that can help us target resources."

During the period, a total of 46 kilos of cocaine were seized and 10,435 ecstasy tablets. The largest single ecstasy find was in the Antrim area when 5,000 tablets were discovered last July.

The number of drug-related arrests has also increased year on year from 1,440 during 2005/06 to 2,953.

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