Considerable quantities of prescription medications and illegal drugs have been taken out of circulation, thanks to the successful ‘RAPID’ drugs bin initiative.
The Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP), working in conjunction with the PSNI, South Eastern Drug Alcohol Coordination Team and local political and community representatives, has installed three RAPID (Remove All Prescription and Illegal Drugs) drugs disposal bins in the Lisburn and Castlereagh area over the last two years.
The community safety initiative is designed to promote the removal of prescription medication, illegal drugs and new psychoactive substances (legal highs) from the community.
According to the PCSP, more than 3,800 items - prescribed and illegal drugs - have already been disposed of in the bins at Seymour Hill, Old Warren and Ballybeen.
Indeed, the RAPID project has proven so successful that plans are now being developed to extend the scheme into other areas.
Speaking about the initiative, Lisburn and Castlereagh PCSP Chairman, Councillor Aaron McIntyre said: “We are all aware of the dangers of illegal drugs and the effects that these have in communities, but prescribed drugs can be equally as dangerous in the wrong hands or if taken with other substances. I would urge the community to make use of these facilities in the three locations.
“It is free from any investigations or prosecutions and this initiative is designed to dispose of prescribed and illegal drugs safely. Locally the PCSP are continuing to promote the existing three bins and exploring suitable locations for new bins.”
Drugs disposal bins are currently available at Laganview Enterprise Centre, Lisburn, outside the shops at Rowan Drive, Seymour Hill and the Spar Shop, Ballybeen, Dundonald.
However, the PCSP is currently working with its partners and the Glenavy community to launch a bin in Glenavy village in the near future. They are also working to identify other suitable drugs disposal bin sites across the council area.
Welcoming the success of the scheme, UUP Councillor Alexander Redpath said: “As a member of the policing partnership I’m really pleased that this scheme has shown early success. These bins allow drug users who are tying to get clean or their families to safely dispose of drugs so that they aren’t picked up and recirculated. What were trying to avoid is a situation where drugs are discarded and discovered by members of public.
“There is a proposal to extend the scheme and I am in consultation with local community groups to ensure that there is community support for these bins being installed.”
While stressing that enforcement and catching and prosecuting those who deal drugs must remain the priority, Cllr Redpath said “anything that reduces the risk of drug use is to be welcomed.”
His party colleague, Councillor Nicholas Trimble added: “Having previously served on the PCSP, I am encouraged by statistics which indicate the positive impact the installation of these bins has had on the local community.”
The RAPID drugs disposal service is completely anonymous and the bins can be used by anyone in the community to safely dispose of any unused or out of date medicines, illegal drugs or legal highs. All individuals depositing drugs in the disposal drugs bins are legally protected from further investigation or prosecution.
The bins are emptied regularly by the PSNI and the drugs are destroyed. No personal details are collected. Substances may be tested by the Forensic Service of Northern Ireland to identify them and to assess their toxicity. The results of all the disposals are reported back to the community through the PCSP to community groups and SEDACT. The bins are not for the disposal of used needles.