Top Londonderry police officer Tony Callaghan says 31 arrests were made across North West

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Londonderry’s top police officer says the PSNI made 214 drugs seizures and 31 arrests across the North West between February and April in an anti-street dealing operation informed by tip-offs from the public.

Police seized almost £1.5m million worth of illegal drugs in a campaign with Policing and Community Safety Partnerships and Crimestoppers to tackle street-level drugs and drug dealing across Northern Ireland.

The operation ran between February 9 and April 9 and as well as drugs worth £1.46m, there were 1,823 searches, 704 seizures and 357 arrests across Northern Ireland.

In the North West area, including Londonderry, Strabane, Limavady and Magherafelt, there were 31 arrests in 304 searches and 214 seizures.

Chief Inspector Tony Callaghan, the Local Policing commander for Derry City, said the operation locally reflected the priority that police and the community place on tackling drugs issues.

“Operation Torus was aimed at detecting and deterring street-level drugs dealing in a specific period – the kind of behaviour that many people are concerned about.”

Mr Callaghan said that ongoing anti-drugs operations could not succeed without the help of the general public.

He said the eyes and ears of the people of Londonderry, Limavady, Strabane and Magherafelt have been invaluable in helping his officers tackle the drugs scourge.

“A lot of the information we get comes from members of the public and we always act on it,” he said.

“When we carry out searches and arrests we want to deal with offenders through the justice system and we want to ensure that offenders are dealt with in a way that protects the community and is appropriate to their individual circumstances.

“While Operation Torus was a specific operation in a specific timeframe, we carry out drugs operations week in and week out.

“In the period between April 1 2014 and the end of February this year, we made 388 seizures in Derry City and that included 247 arrests with 169 people charged.”

The top Londonderry police officer also said that the force’s community policing personnel were particularly focused on the problem of drugs in local communities.

“Our Neighbourhood Policing Teams and our Crime Team have a particular focus on drugs issues, supported by our other policing resources. In the past week alone, we have made four seizures and four arrests,” he said.

“We will continue to work with the community to tackle drugs. This is a partnership that works to take drugs off our streets and put dealers before the courts.

“There is no alternative that can be justified in a law-abiding society.”