Detective Chief Superintendent Tim Mairs, Detective Superintendent Bobby Singleton, Inspector Jonny Francey, An Garda Síochána Inspector Tony Twomey; Phillip Keegan Safer Blanchardstown & Jane McNeill from the Department of Justice launch anti drugs campaign 'Think Before You Buy' at Parliament Buildings, Stormont on Wednesday morning.
PSNI has today launched a video as part of an anti-drugs campaign to highlight the role of recreational drug use in intimidation and serious violence in Northern Ireland’s communities.
‘Think Before You Buy’ is a joint campaign between PSNI, An Garda Siochana and Safer Blanchardstown, using posters and a short video to raise awareness that people who engage in casual drug use also contribute to the fear and intimidation inflicted on people, particularly drug debt intimidation.
It is hoped the hard hitting images and commentary will change the attitudes of recreational drugs users by helping them realise how their habits fuel not just the drug trade, but also the serious organised crime and harm it brings to communities throughout Northern Ireland.
Today’s launch follows the introduction of the campaign in the Republic of Ireland earlier this month by Safer Blanchardstown and the AGS.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Head of Criminal Investigation Branch, Detective Chief Superintendent Tim Mairs, said: “Drugs bring misery to users, their families and communities, and the PSNI is committed to tackling this blight in our society.
“I am delighted to launch ‘Think Before You Buy’ today as this type of initiative links in with our approach of reducing the harm caused by illegal drugs which organised criminals bring to our communities.
“I would like to commend Inspector Jonny Francey who had the excellent idea to adopt and adapt this campaign for our communities in Northern Ireland following a secondment to the AGS last year.
“It is crucial that we continue to work with partners both within Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in order to stop the misery that the illegal supply of drugs brings. We all face the same problems in relation to the damage caused to communities and the ‘Think Before You Buy’ initiative will help to make people that casual drug use also feeds into the coffers of the organised criminal gangs that supply illegal drugs.”
Inspector Jonny Francey added: “The campaign caught my attention when I was on secondment in Dublin last year and came across Safer Blanchardstown - a local Community Policing operating in Blanchardstown Local Drug and Alcohol Task Force area with the aim of improving confidence and relevant information exchange between communities.
“I thought it was something PSNI could adopt in Northern Ireland. I hope by introducing the initiative people buying drugs at the weekend, on a casual basis, will realise they are contributing to the violence and intimidation that is striking fear through the heart of our communities. We want people to consider when they hand over their money to a drug dealer, where that money goes and what it’s used for; that it’s not being invested for the good of the community.
“Instead, it’s going to merciless organised crime gangs who peddle their ill-gotten gains with no regard for society. For example, money from a casual transaction at the weekend could be used towards buying a gun used in a paramilitary style attack against someone who has a drug debt; or a getaway car used in a crime. Someone with a drugs debt may carry out a burglary or a robbery in a bid to get the money they need to pay a debt to the very same dealers the casual user is handing their money to.
“The casual drugs transaction at the weekend has long lasting consequences for society and we want people to start having that conversation, to ‘Think before you Buy’.”
Safer Blanchardstown Coordinator, Philip Jennings said: “The drugs market is made up essentially of two distinct end user groups - regular users and what are referred to as ‘casual’, ‘occasional’ or ‘recreational’ drug users. Regular users are those people who use drugs every day and would be a dependable, steady source of income for the supplier that keeps the ‘business’ going.
“However, it’s at the weekends when the casual or recreational user orders their small bit of hash or cocaine that the real money is made by the drugs trade and it is this ‘real money’ that attracts the serious violence and intimidation which is affecting communities right across the country. This is why it is essential to draw attention to the link between recreational use of drugs, the vast amounts of money this generates, criminal activity and drug debt intimidation.”
An Garda Síochána Inspector Tony Twomey said: “Often people who engage with recreational drug use do not see the link with organised crime and intimidation and its contribution to what’s happening on the bigger scene.”
Julie Wilson, Head of the Organised Crime Branch in the Department of Justice, said: “The Department welcomes this innovative cross-border initiative between Police Service of Northern Ireland, An Garda Síochána and Safer Blanchardstown. We are confident that the already proven results of the scheme in the fight against ‘recreational’ and other illegal drugs will bring benefits to our communities in Northern Ireland. ‘Recreational’ or whatever other convenient label criminals use for illegal drug trading is irrelevant. The facts are that illegal drugs can kill, they ruin lives, and they fund organised crime gangs who are responsible for intimidation and violence within our communities.”
“Don’t be fooled by the ‘recreational’ label into buying illegal drugs.”
The video can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/y0KPAdaqyjc