Monday 04 March 2019 02:30:51 PM

Crime Task Force Says Drugs Are Growing Problem
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Organised Crime Task Force Drugs sub group speaks out following the release of NISRA Drugs statistics. 

Commenting on the release of the NISRA drugs related death statistics, Detective Superintendent Bobby Singleton, Chair of the Organised Crime Task Force’s Drugs sub-group said today; “The publication of these official statistics provides evidence that demonstrates our shared concern that Northern Ireland has a growing problem with potentially fatal drug misuse.

“When we talk about drug misuse and related deaths people often assume that we must mean illicit drugs like heroin, cocaine and ecstasy. Whilst these drugs cause serious harm and can be fatal, the majority of deaths in Northern Ireland are due to the misuse of a variety of prescription medicines, often with alcohol and illicit drugs.

“The loss of a loved one is heart breaking for families. The harm and hurt caused by drug misuse is cross cutting and impacts people’s lives at every level in Northern Ireland.

“The causes, complexity and pervasiveness of drug misuse and the harm it causes means that no one agency can tackle it alone. It is vital that we continue to work together using a coordinated, partnership-based approach that recognises the common goals we all share – to keep people safe by reducing crime, improving life chances and protecting the most vulnerable.”

A detailed question and answer sheet about drugs and the work carried out by organisations can be found at:

www.octf.gov.uk

More information on the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency statistics can be found at:

www.finance-ni.gov.uk

Responsibility for tackling alcohol and drugs-related deaths cannot be shirked, says Bradshaw.

Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has said figures showing drug-related deaths among males here have almost doubled in the past decade show the need to prioritise mental well-being services and to reallocate resources to therapeutic and counselling services.

The South Belfast MLA was speaking after statistics by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency showed the number of males dying increased by 98 per cent between 2007 and 2017. Some 74 per cent of all drug-related deaths in Northern Ireland are of males.

“The level of male drugs-related deaths is now remaining firmly at double the level ten years ago and absolutely cannot be tolerated any longer. Too many lives are being lost too young, and too many families are suffering,” said Ms Bradshaw.

“We need to take the opportunity offered by transformation of health and social care to ensure counselling can be accessed in a timely manner and therapeutic services are immediately available. Not to deliver these causes a crippling impact on the Health Service and, more importantly, on individuals and families.

“Too often people are left to face hugely challenging health conditions and challenges alone, without the requisite support, and there remains a stigma around opening up about the impact. Levels of drugs and alcohol-related deaths, and of suicide, are far too high and yet we still see political leaders shirking their responsibility to manage the transformation process to tackle them. Too many people are paying too high a price.”