An initiative known as RAPID (Remove All Prescription and Illegal Drugs), which is helping to remove prescription and illegal drugs from our streets by providing drug disposal bins, has been launched in Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough, in the Old Courthouse, Antrim.
RAPID was initially piloted in 2010 and due to the success of the joint health and community safety initiative, further bins have been installed throughout Northern Ireland in partnership with key statutory, community and voluntary groups. Since 2010, Ninety per cent of the drugs handed in are prescription or over the counter medicines but illegal drugs have also been deposited.
Antrim and Newtownabbey Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) and PSNI have been working closely with the Public Health Agency (PHA) and the local Drug and Alcohol Coordination Team (DACT) to identify and work with communities and businesses within their catchment areas to benefit from taking part in the initiative and having a RAPID drug disposal bin installed.
Speaking about the initiative, PCSP Chairperson, Councillor Paul Dunlop said: "We are delighted with the installation of the RAPID bin in the Old Courthouse, Antrim.”
"We are all aware of the dangers of illegal drugs and the effects these have in communities, but prescribed drugs can be equally as dangerous in the wrong hands or if taken with other substances.
"By allowing the public to dispose of prescription and illegal drugs in these accessible bins, we hope to substantially reduce the amount of drugs available on our streets."
The PSNI District Commander for Antrim and Newtownabbey, Superintendent Steen commented: “The introduction of these drug disposal bins provides an effective way for drugs and harmful substances to be removed from our community.
"Anyone, whether they be parents, grandparents, siblings or family members, can dispose of items which they believe have the potential to cause harm.
"By working together, we are giving a clear indication that we do not want drugs on our streets. This initiative provides a real opportunity to reduce the availability of drugs and criminal activity often associated with drug use."
Jayne McConaghie, Senior Officer for Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement at the PHA
, said: “Alcohol and drug misuse is a common issue and sadly causes suffering and tragedy to individuals, families and communities.
“This is a simple but powerful health intervention and we very much welcome the installation of the new RAPID bin in Antrim and Newtownabbey. All of the partners are keen that the RAPID initiative is further developed and expanded over coming years with further bins installed, enabling more people and communities to learn more about the risks and dangers of drug misuse and to dispose of unwanted drugs easily and discreetly.”
RAPID has three aims:
- Removal of prescription, illegal and new psychoactive substances.
- Provision of information and support to individuals, families, local businesses and community organisations to raise awareness of the effects and risks of using/misusing illegal and/or prescription drugs.
- Bringing together community and statutory agencies, local businesses and the general public under the RAPID initiative to work towards making their local community a safer place to live.
Kathleen Grego of the Northern DACT Connections Service said: “We are delighted to be involved in the RAPID partnership and we welcome the further roll out of the bins in the Antrim and Newtownabbey area. I have no doubt they will be a great success.”
For more information on existing RAPID bins and/or how to contact your local Drug and Alcohol Coordination Team (DACT) and/or Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) to express an interest, visit www.drugsandalcoholni.info/RAPID
Any unwanted or unused prescription medication can also be returned to any pharmacy within Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough.