Banbridge residents say they are living in fear as drug dealers “take over” the streets of the town.
Following recent deaths in the area over a number of months, residents have begun speaking out and calling for action to tackle what they have said is an “epidemic”.
The calls come in the same week that the police are launching a strategy to tackle drug and alcohol misuse in the community.
One mother, who did not want to be named, said she feared for her teenage children and that something must be done as a matter of urgency to tackle the issue.
“I went to a District Policing Partnership meeting after the death of a young man in the town and was told that there was no more of an issue in Banbridge than other towns. But I don’t live in other towns,” she said. “There is a massive drugs problem in Banbridge, bigger than we even know about.
“It is frightening,” she continued. “People are being intimidated by drug dealers, who are demanding money in the street. These guys are walking about, demanding money, smashing windows and burning cars.
“It is an epidemic. It is not underground in Banbridge anymore. My son is 19 and he said it is easier to buy drugs than to buy sugar. He said he could take me to ten houses right now where you can buy drugs.
“It is a joke that it is so easy. Children are being handed the drugs for free in school to get them addicted. This is the thin end of the wedge.
“It is so widely available that something must be done before it gets out of hand.”
Other residents also spoke out on Facebook about the issue. Stuart Woods said: “Banbridge has always been known for drugs. Needs sorted a long time ago.”
Adam Dougan asked: “This is an absolute joke now. Are the councillors and police finally going to admit to Banbridge having a problem? Or bury their heads in the sand once again?”
And Kelly Cameron added: “It is a shame and disgrace that this town has come to this. Growing up my mum kept me away from things like that,
“I didn’t even know what drugs were until late in my teens and just having had a daughter I do not want her growing up thinking this is normal and an everyday thing. It’s not right and the PSNI should hang their heads in shame that they are not fixing this problem sooner.”
Grant Nesbitt added: “It’s not just time for the Police or politicians to wake up. It’s time for everyone to wake up!”