A Coleraine father-of-two has spoken of his horror at finding his young son playing with bags of amphetamine powder just a few yards from his home.
Rhys Steele (6) and his friend Charlie Campbell (7) were playing near their homes on Churchland Street last Monday when they discovered several bags of white powder.
Rhys’ father Grahame Steele discovered the two boys throwing the powder around in a play area.
He said: “They just thought it was chalk or something and were both covered in it — it was in their hair and all over their clothes.
“The police came and took the stuff away but didn’t ask to speak to the kids or take statements. The next day they told us the stuff in the bags were amphetamines.”
Grahame said the incident could have been far more serious. “I also have a two-year-old, Harley. If he’d been out playing with the two boys when they found the stuff, a child that age would have put it straight in his mouth.
“Thankfully Rhys and Charlie were OK. We phoned the doctor who advised us there was no need to take them to hospital unless they had symptoms.”
Following the incident, police in Coleraine are advising parents in the area to warn their children not to pick up items they find on the ground.
Police said: “The source of the drugs is currently the subject of an ongoing investigation.”
Neighbourhood Constable Ruth Irvine said: “Concerned by the development, we held a street briefing on Wednesday evening, September 1, to seek further information regarding the drugs find and to listen to the concerns of local residents. We also offered advice and issued information leaflets highlighting the dangers associated with the misuse of all types of illegal drugs.”
She continued: “Parents rightly want their children to be able to play safely without having to worry about the menace of those who misuse these illegal substances.”
Coleraine PSNI are urging the public to contact them with any information on the sale, supply, misuse or distribution of illegal drugs.
Their telephone number is 0845 600 8000 or they can be emailed on NPTColeraine@psni.pnn.police.uk.
Information can also be passed anonymously to the Crimestoppers charity on freephone 0800 555111.