A SHARP rise in the number of drug seizures were recorded in two out of the three police districts covering Tyrone, despite the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
Figures released by the PSNI this week are showing a big increase in the number of drugs incidents from July 2020 to June 2021.
They show that the Class B drug, cannabis, and the Class A drug, cocaine are currently the most commonly seized drugs in the North.
Both Mid-Ulster, which covers Dungannon and Cookstown, and the Strabane and Derry Districts were among the areas which showed the highest increases on the previous year.
In Mid-Ulster, the number of seizures rose from 487 to 583, a jump of 56 on the previous 12 months, while in Strabane and Derry, the number jumped even more significantly from 697 to 892, an increase of 195.
Both areas were among the top five highest increases across the North.
There was better news for Fermanagh and Omagh, where seizure incidents reported by the PSNI fell.
A modest decrease resulted in 322 incidents in the period from July 2020 to June 2021, compared to 338 during the previous year.
But the increase in the number of seizures has not been matched in the amount of arrests, with the number of people detained as a result falling in both the Fermanagh and Omagh and Mid-Ulster areas.
The number of arrests for drug-related incidents fell by 28 in Fermanagh and Omagh, where 14 people were arrested during the 12 month period and by 21 in Mid-Ulster, where the number of arrests totalled 155.
Earlier this summer, the PSNI District Commander for Fermanagh and Omagh, Alywin Barton, warned that drugs are now available in ‘every town and village’ across the area.
His comments caused shock to reverberate among local representatives.
He was speaking at a meeting of the Policing and Community Safety Partnership for the area, which also revealed that during the year a total of 260 people were found in possession of drugs, compared to 257 the previous year.