Editor's Viewpoint: Time to clean streets from scourge of drugs
It is shocking to discover that there has been a 1,400% rise in the amount of drug litter found in Belfast over the past three years, and we report details of this in today's Belfast Telegraph.
This tells us much about the worrying prevalence of drugs and drugs use in our capital city.
Some of the places where such unsavoury debris is dumped include public toilets, and recreational areas such as footpaths, playing fields and other areas.
These places for leisure and recreation would not normally be associated with such a dangerous menace, but nowadays nowhere is out of bounds.
Clearly we have a significant drugs problem, and even more must be done to tackle this dangerous and anti-social behaviour which is claiming so many lives.
We need to develop a two-pronged strategy that deals severely with those who peddle drugs, but also one which helps people caught in this trap to do something effective about their addiction and lifestyle.
This drugs menace not only harms those directly involved, but it also poses a threat to innocent members of the public.
Only last week we carried a story about a young mother with her children who found drug-taking equipment in a toilet area of the CastleCourt Shopping Centre.
There was also a report of another mother enduring an anxious wait about the condition of her child who was stabbed by a needle at a European airport, on their way back to Belfast.
The discovery of drugs litter in our public places is bad enough, but this also deters people from using these facilities if they think that they will encounter, and possibly be harassed by, drug users.
Belfast rightly deserves its glowing reputation as a modern, tourist-friendly city, with unique offerings for visitors, and we have made enormous progress here during the past 20 years.
However, the reality of being a modern city also means that we have to counter the growing menace of a drugs problem.
It is a matter of great sadness that while the standard of living for most people has risen greatly in the past 50 years and more, the anti-social behaviour associated with comparative affluence has risen also.
For all sorts of reasons we need to do more at all levels to take urgent action to save lives, and also to clean up our main city.