By Paul Ainsworth

Efforts to tackle South Belfast’s drug problem need to be redoubled, a local councillor has said, as more seizure incidents are taking place locally than any other part of the North.

PSNI officers lifted a total of £12,875 worth of illegal drugs in the space of just one month in 28 separate seizure incidents.

The haul, between the end of May and the end of June this year, places South Belfast at the top of the list for drugs being lifted so far this financial year, with a total of 77 seizures by officers since the beginning of April.  This total is higher than anywhere else in the North, although the estimated street value for all substances taken off the streets locally – £26,389, is dwarfed in comparison to neighbouring areas such as North Belfast, where cops have recovered £100,775 worth of drugs since April.

Worryingly, one cause of the spike in street value in South Belfast was the recovery of 245 millilitres of liquid opiates over the month – which can include deadly heroin – while almost 159 grams of cannabis were also found in June.

The findings come as a 21-year-old man was released on police bail following an arrest in connection with the recovery of £5,000 worth of cocaine, and £300 worth of cannabis last week in the Lavinia Mews area of the Lower Ormeau.

Local councillor and former District Policing partnership member for South Belfast Chris Stalford, said the findings highlighted the “significant problem” with narcotics in the area.

Unfortunately, I would think that these recoveries are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to drugs in South Belfast,” he said.

“We are always at the top of this unfortunate drugs league, and I would appeal to police to redouble their efforts so we can get a handle on this problem.”

He also said the new local Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) should make drugs a major focus when public meetings get up and running this autumn. The Policing and Community Safety Partnership  will be a useful mechanism for focusing on local issues, and here in South Belfast, drugs are most definitely an issue that needs focusing on.”

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