Northern Ireland

Drugs and alcohol seized from young teens

Alcohol in boot of a police car Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Police posted photographs of some of the alcohol they collected as part of Operation Snapper

Police have appealed to parents after they seized a haul of drugs and alcohol from teenagers - some as young as 13 - in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon.

About 250 items were collected including, Class A, B and C drugs, 200 prescription tablets, 74 litres of cider and 16 litres of vodka.

They were seized on Friday as part of "Operation Snapper," planned to coincide with school summer holidays.

Police spoke to more than 230 young people aged between 13 and 16.

Image copyright PSNI/Twitter
Image caption In a tweet, police warned that very young teenagers were caught with drink and drugs

As a result of the operation, officers took several children home to their parents, and others were referred to the Alcohol Support Programme.

However, police said they also "referred many children and parents to social services".

In a statement, Chief Inspector Jon Burrows said: "I would appeal to all parents and guardians as we approach the school holidays to know where your children are, check and double check and talk to them about the dangers of alcohol and drugs."

'Bongs'

'Operation Snapper' took place across the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon on Friday.

The pro-active operation was aimed at "safeguarding young people and preventing anti-social behaviour".

Mr Burrows said officers focused on locations "that are often out of public sight" where young people "consume alcohol and sometimes drugs".

"Alarmingly, we recovered Class A, B and C drugs, including 200 prescription tablets.

"Many of the 'out of view' places we found children in, there were also bongs and other paraphernalia for consuming drugs."

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Some of the drugs collected by Police in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon on Friday

He added: "A common theme emerged that children were drinking alcohol earlier in the day so they would sober up by the time they got home to their parents or guardians.

"Another more familiar story was retold time and time again - parents thought their children were one place, only for us to find them somewhere else."

'Distress calls'

The officer said that although there were "many facets" to the problem of underage drinking, "the most important interventions happen at home".

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Police focused their attention on areas "out of public sight"

CI Burrows added: "Police officers all too often see the tragic impact of underage drinking and drug taking, the harm and suffering caused to families and communities.

"We were glad to be on the front foot [on Friday], intervening before the anti social behaviour or the distress calls began."