A local PSNI officer helped launch a video at the end of last year as part of an anti-drugs campaign and it is now hoped the videos will be screened in local cinemas within the Ards and North Down area.
‘Think Before You Buy’ is a collaborative 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. This campaign is supported by Ards and North Down Borough Council and Ards and North Down Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP).
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.
Inspector Jonny Francey who had the idea to adopt and adapt this campaign for our communities in Northern Ireland following a secondment to the AGS in 2016.
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’.”
The video can be viewed via the link: