Graphic ads may aid drug warning

A policing forum in Cork is to look at the possibility of creating a graphic advertising campaign to highlight the dangers of taking synthetic drugs.

It follows last week’s incident in which a teenager died after a house party in Cork that left four others seeking hospital treatment.

Alex Ryan, aged 18, died on Saturday after taking a deadly hallucinogenic substance, N-bomb, that had been introduced at the party in the Greenmount area of Cork City last Tuesday.

Chief Superintendent Gerard Dillane yesterday told a meeting of the Cork County Joint Policing Committee (JPC) that if young people were to attend postmortems on the bodies of those who died through drugs they would think twice about consuming certain substances.

The Cork North Garda Division chief said some people may have weaknesses in their bodies which would make them more susceptible than others to the effects of drugs.

JPC chairman Cllr Frank O’Flynn (FF) secured agreement from colleagues when he suggested the committee should consider ‘shock’ advertising warnings about drugs, similar to those used for road safety and anti-smoking campaigns.

Cllr Daithi O’Donnabhain (FF) said legislation had been introduced to curb sales of drugs in so-called head shops, but with slight product changes, the substances are not classed as illegal and can be sold.

Chief Superintendent Tom Hayes (Cork West Garda Division) said head shops were well policed by gardaí. “You must also be aware it’s very easy to source drugs through the internet and they come in by post,” he said, adding that the JPC should liaise with the local drugs taskforce to come up with a strategy to combat synthetic drug use.

JPC member Gavin Faulks, who worked for An Post for ten years, said there were times when the company used sniffer dogs to check parcels entering the country.

He said maybe it was time to make sure every parcel was checked, as happens in Australia.

Superintendent Con Cadogan, in charge of policing the city Garda district of Gurranabraher, said there should be youth involvement in a multi-agency approach to tackling the issue.

Meanwhile, yesterday’s meeting of the JPC in County Hall heard that most categories of crime were down in the final quarter of 2015, in both the city and county, compared to the same period in 2014. However, the number of drunkenness offences and material damage to cars were on the rise.

Senior gardaí suggested the offences were likely the result of the economy picking up as people had more money to spend on drink and there were more car journeys, and accidents, as more people were working.

Property-related crimes were down 14%, crimes against the person fell 12%, while burglaries and thefts from shops decreased 12%.

Assaults causing harm were down 19%, and minor assaults fell from 351 to 308. Incidents of criminal damage decreased from 618 to 502.

Chief Supt Dillane said the figures were good for that quarter, “but then again we only live from one day to the next”. He warned that trends could change.

Chief Supt Dillane also said the JPC and IFA had embarked on ensuring farmers take details and images of their machinery so it would make it easier for gardaí to identify the owners if stolen goods were recovered.

Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) said he was concerned stolen farm machinery was being smuggled out of the country by gangs. He asked if enough checks were being made at ports. He was told the question would be passed on to customs officials.


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