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PSNI, not vigilantes, should tackle drugs

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 21/09/2016

Individuals cannot take the law into their own hands, even if the PSNI was far too slow to react in this sorry situation
Individuals cannot take the law into their own hands, even if the PSNI was far too slow to react in this sorry situation

The use of illegal drugs is one of the scourges of modern times, and there are regular headlines about children as young as 13 becoming involved.

Given the background of the continuing use and abuse of drugs, it is not difficult to comprehend the anger and frustration of the former MLA Adrian Cochrane-Watson, who has hit out at those who supply drugs to vulnerable young people.

He told a local newspaper that he would "break the legs" of any dealers he catches selling drugs to children.

Mr Cochrane-Watson was alerted to an emergency recently in which a young relative became unwell after smoking cannabis.

The former MLA rushed the young casualty to hospital in his own car.

He claimed that an ambulance was slow to respond to an emergency call, and that the police told him that no officers were available to come to the scene.

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service stated later that one of its vehicles arrived on scene 90 seconds after the 21-minute target set to respond to such calls - which was of little comfort to Adrian Cochrane-Watson and his family.

And it was only after his complaint about the police was publicised in a local newspaper that the PSNI contacted him.

Mr Cochrane-Watson also revealed, somewhat startlingly, that he also handed over some cannabis he had confiscated from a teenager six months previously.

He said that he had told the police about the cannabis at the time, and that he knew the name of the alleged drug dealer, but that "no one ever came to me."

It is little wonder that Adrian Cochrane-Watson used such strong language about "breaking the legs" of a dealer but, while we sympathise with his frustration, we cannot condone his threat of violence to others.

The best way forward is to rely on the rule of law and to allow justice to run its course.

This may be hard for people to accept, but individuals cannot take the law into their own hands, even if the PSNI was far too slow to react in this sorry situation.

The subsequent police statement about these incidents was over-long on words and, even though the PSNI can be congratulated on the discovery of a cannabis factory in Newtownabbey this week, much still needs to be done to deal with the drugs menace that threatens our society.

Belfast Telegraph

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