Police Service seize £309,000 worth of drugs in first two weeks of Operation Torus 2017
More people are dying from misuse of opioid drugs in Northern Ireland than in road fatalities – this is the stark message from The Police Service of Northern Ireland as part of Operation Torus 2017.
Officers have seized more than £309,000 worth of drugs in the first two weeks of its latest campaign to specifically target street level drug dealing.
From the start of Operation Torus on 27 February to 13 March, police have conducted 244 searches across Northern Ireland resulting in 59 arrests and have also charged or reported 43 people to the Public Prosecution Service.
Announcing the preliminary figures, Detective Chief Superintendent Tim Mairs, Head of Reactive and Organised Crime Branch, said: “Drugs remain a policing priority due to the devastating effects they can cause to individuals, their families and communities. The number of deaths in Northern Ireland connected to drug use is on the increase and this is a concern. Sadly, these are all preventable.
“A report by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs in December 2016 highlighted there was an increase of opioid deaths across the UK between 2012 and 2015, with Northern Ireland having the second highest increase of 47% following England at 58%. This indicates that, despite the much smaller numbers we are dealing with in Northern Ireland, the rate of increase is worrying.
“It also highlighted that the number of opioid deaths now account for a larger number of fatalities in the UK than traffic collisions. Northern Ireland figures also reflect this trend with 88 opioid related deaths in 2015 and 74 fatalities as a result of RTCs.
“Behind each of these statistics for drugs and roads deaths is a person and a family who living daily with this loss. It is recognised that road traffic fatalities are too high, so to compare this with deaths from opioid drugs shows just how big a problem this is becoming.
“Police will continue to target drugs dealers and those in the supply chain in Northern Ireland to try and remove this scourge on society. However, this is not a problem that police can solve alone. We can tackle the symptom and will continue to work with our partners in other sectors including health and education to address the wider causes.”
In the first two weeks of Operation Torus police have had significant success in the number of searches, seizures and arrests linked to street level drug dealers across Northern Ireland.
“Latest overall figures show that from February 2016 to February 2017 there have been 5,182 drugs seizures across Northern Ireland and 2,696 drugs related arrests.
“The seizure of £309,000 worth of drugs over the past three weeks is ongoing proof that our commitment to acting upon information provided by communities has paid off. We could not carry out the job we do without the help of communities. We continue to encourage anyone with information regarding drugs to come forward and help us reduce the threat of dangerous and illegal drugs on the streets,” added Detective Chief Superintendent Mairs.
“The Police Service of Northern Ireland will continue to arrest and charge those involved in the sale and supply of drugs and bring those individuals before the courts. We will also seize their illegal merchandise and take it out of circulation. Help from communities and partner agencies make this possible. The information they provide helps us to reduce the threat of harmful and illegal drugs activity in Northern Ireland. I would continue to appeal to communities to provide us with information about illegal drugs. We are committed to keeping people safe, and that is what we will do.
“If you know of anyone who is dealing drugs in your local area, then contact local police on the non-emergency number 101. Alternatively, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 and pass on any information you may have.”