Residents in Longlands estate ‘let down’ by PSNI and fearing for future of their area

Two years on and still no drug charges

By Gemma Burns

NoT ONE person has been arrested or charged in relation to drug dealing in a Newtownabbey estate despite parents handing over the names of known dealers in the area to police almost three years ago. Over the past number of weeks the North Belfast News has been inundated with texts, calls and letters regarding the levels of drug dealing in Longlands. Residents claim everyone in the area is aware of who the main dealers are but they continue to freely ply their deadly trade.

In July 2010 the NBN revealed Longlands parents, whose teenage sons were part of a group requiring urgent medical attention after taking a deadly new drug, handed over names of known during dealers over to police in summer 2009.

However despite this no one in the area has been charged with drugs offences. Residents say it is not outsiders but people who are from the area who are selling the drugs, sometime openly in the street.

One caller to the North Belfast News this week said that people in the area are now too frightened to speak up.

“People are terrified,” said the caller.

“Those names were handed over ages ago and nothing was done. Longlands is a small place so if someone’s house was raided we’d all know about it. They are ruining this place and the worst part of it is it isn’t strangers, it is people whose families were born and bred around Longlands, Bawnmore and the Whitewell.”

Responding to a North Belfast News query Newtownabbey Area Commander Chief Inspector Stephen Reid insisted they are acting on the information given to them.

“We continue to encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale or supply of drugs to bring that information to us,” he said.

“We can understand the frustrations of those who have provided us with information in the past and perhaps feel that action wasn’t taken quickly enough.

“We would however reassure those people that every piece of information we receive goes into building up an accurate picture of who the dealers are in our area and allows us to take the appropriate legal steps to shut down their activities for good. This cannot happen overnight but I assure you when information is made available to us action is taken.”

The top cop said police are seizing drugs in the Newtownabbey area but could not be specific if any of the seizures were in the Longlands area.

“We want to build upon the hard work of last year which saw an increase of more than 27 per cent in the number of people arrested for drugs offences in Newtownabbey (83, up from 65) with a 38 per cent increase in the number subsequently charged.

“Officers have also seized significant quantities of drugs from local dealers in the past 12 months with more than 110 separate seizures recorded.”

 

See next week’s North Belfast News for an in-depth look at this drugs issue.

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