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PSNI drug seizures triple over decade

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Some 354 drug arrests were made in April 2019, the highest monthly figure seen since 2006.

Some 354 drug arrests were made in April 2019, the highest monthly figure seen since 2006.

Some 354 drug arrests were made in April 2019, the highest monthly figure seen since 2006.

Drug seizures and arrests are more than three times the levels they were a decade ago, it has emerged.

A total of 8,177 seizures were recorded in the past year, up from 2,590 in 2006/07.

In the 12 months to March 31 this year PSNI drug seizures increased by 616 (8%) from the previous year's figure of 7,561.

Data released by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency also shows that drug arrests were up by 501 (15%).

The number of arrests for drug offences has risen in most years since 2006/07, with the 3,819 recorded in 2019/20 more than twice that of 2006/07, when 1,709 arrests were recorded.

Some 354 drug arrests were made in April 2019, the highest monthly figure seen since the start of the data series in April 2006.

Cannabis was the most commonly seized drug during 2019/20, followed by benzodiazepines and cocaine.

There were 724 seizures which involved pregabalin and 59 involving gabapentin.

All but two policing districts had an increase in drug seizure incidents.

Belfast City had an increase of 192 (7.9%), while Mid and East Antrim saw the largest rise with 198 seizures, up by 42%.

The Belfast City district also accounted for 41% of all arrests during 2019/20.

Det Supt Rachel Shields from the PSNI Criminal Investigation Branch said the continued upward trend in arrests and incidents is due to increased detections by police and acting on information from the public.

She said: "We are committed to making Northern Ireland a hostile environment for those who are involved in the drugs trade and anyone tempted to become involved should be under no illusion that we will seek to identify them, arrest them and bring them before the courts."

Justice Minister Naomi Long said: "Drugs bring nothing but misery and those who line their pockets off the back of that misery simply do not care about the destruction and harm they are causing to young and vulnerable people within their own communities. I welcome the increase in seizures by the PSNI."

Yesterday a homeless charity said it has seen an alarming change in drug consumption and trends in the Londonderry area during the pandemic.

Depaul also saw a rise in the use of heroin, roxicodone, diazepam and suboxone.

The charity dealt with a series of suspected overdoses where staff had to administer Naloxone, a lifesaving antidote that reverses the effects of an overdose.

Deirdre Canavan of Depaul said the shift in drug consumption and trends in Derry during the lockdown period was "worrying".

Belfast Telegraph