DRUG-trafficking and possession offences in the Dungannon district have shown a steep fall in the past year, suggesting that police may be winning the war against drugs.
The number of drug offences has dropped from 156 in 2011/12 to 84 this year, according to the latest figures released by the PSNI.
Last year, police launched an unprecedented crackdown against drug dealers, following concerns raised by parents and residents in Coalisland that dealers were targeting school children with free drugs. Last year, more drugs suspects were stopped and searched in the local district than anywhere else West of the Bann.
Inspector Kieth Jamieson Sector Commander at Dungannon commented: “These latest figures are welcome but the police must not become complacent. Drugs abuse, particularly amongst the younger generation, remains a problem. Despite drug related fatalities and repeated warnings regarding the dangers, there remain those that insist in taking illegal drugs. Where there is a demand there will always be criminal elements from within the community who are willing to supply and with this in mind the PSNI continue to welcome all information in relation to drug dealing and other criminal activity.”
According to the police figures, last year Dungannon had one of the highest figures for Northern Ireland – with more searches carried out locally than in West or North Belfast.
Police have almost doubled the number of community officers assigned to Coalisland in order to tackle the scourge of illegal drugs which are blighting the town.
The increased police presence, which has resulted in more patrols, higher visibility, and a local response to calls from the public,is part of a new strategy being advanced by Chief Inspector Alwyn Barton.
Over £200,000 worth of drugs has been seized in Dungannon in the last four months.
Only four policing areas in the entire country have seen higher levels of drug seizures since the start of the present financial year.
In total, £213,212 worth of drugs have been seized between April and July of this year, with only Ballymena, Banbridge, Newtownabbey and North Belfast recording higher figures.