Belfast Telegraph

Police deny BBC NI man's claim they're soft on drugs

By Brett Campbell

Police have insisted they are tackling drugs on our streets after a senior BBC journalist accused the PSNI and business owners of turning a blind eye.

Spotlight presenter Stephen Dempster, who previously conducted an undercover investigation of the heroin trade in Belfast, accused local traders and and the police of being more concerned with their own image than they are about tackling drugs.

The investigative journalist not only agreed with a social media user who accused the authorities of being in denial about a "heroin epidemic" in Northern Ireland, but went further.

"Spot on Dave," he replied on Twitter.

"Police and businesses want heroin issue in Belfast swept under the carpet. Not good for PR or trade."

The Belfast Telegraph asked the BBC if Mr Dempster had any evidence to back up his damning allegation, but it refused to comment.

It said: "BBC staff will often have privately held social media accounts. These do not reflect the views of the BBC."

Superintendent Robert Murdie said that while police did not comment on individual social media posts, he could confirm that officers were committed to tackling the issue of drugs across Northern Ireland and throughout the Belfast area.

He vowed that police "will act on the concerns of the community" to address any drug problems.

"Drugs bring misery to individuals, families and communities," Mr Murdie added.

"I want to warn people to be mindful of the dangers of taking illegal drugs or misusing prescription medication or other chemical products.

"Police will continue 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 this harmful and illegal activity."

The senior officer stressed that drug abuse is not solely a policing issue but something the entire community must address.

"We would ask anyone who may have any information about the sale or distribution of illegal drugs to contact local police."

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