Police under pressure to attend public meeting on Coalisland drugs issues – but allegedly say: ‘We’re not ready’17th April 2012 | By: brendan64 | 5 Comments »
The PSNI have come under further pressure from the Coalisland community to help address the town’s drugs issues after it was claimed officers said they were “not yet ready” to meet residents.
Church leaders in Coalisland are set to meet with the PSNI at the beginning of next week to discuss organising a date for a public meeting between officers and the community.
But residents criticised the police for failing to act as the town held its fourth public meeting to discuss drugs – again without any police representatives.
(Scroll down for a short video from the public meeting)
Speaking yesterday at the latest public meeting in the town, Church of Ireland minister Rev Andrew Rawding answered questions from residents over holding a meeting with the police.
He said: “[The PSNI] sort of said they’re not yet ready to meet the community – we will say, ‘You need to meet the community.’
“Unfortunately at the moment the police don’t seem to be thinking creatively and laterally on this. They need a little bit of guidance on this themselves.”
He said: “They have been shown that they are not up to the mark – and they are embarrassed.”
The Coalisland community again gathered in strong numbers yesterday evening, this time at Brackaville Parish Hall, to discuss how the town should tackle its drugs issues.
About 50 residents huddled around several tables to focus on taking forward three key ideas – a drop-in centre, a parents’ support group and a community outreach plan – before having a larger group discussion.
Rev Rawding said it was important for the community to lobby policing and justice rather than taking the law into their own hands.
He said: “The PSNI have got to do a more effective job. The question is how do we hold them to account?”
Fr Paul – who has been in contact with the police, including Dungannon Sector Commander Inspector Keith Jamieson in recent weeks – urged residents to contact the PSNI about any problems in the town.
He said: “In the last fortnight I have had more phonecalls from the police than I have had all my life really. They keep using the excuse that people are not making these phonecalls.
“Inspector Jamieson said, ‘If we got six phonecalls a week from Coalisland, we would begin to take notice.'”
Pub owners in the town also came under fire from residents, with one woman claiming to have witnessed alcohol being served to underage children.
“We saw three or four children outside a pub being handed out blue bags,” she said.
The group also discussed installing CCTV at trouble spots in the town. Dungannon councillor Pádraig Quinn said: “It simply comes down to practicality and who’s going to fund it and who’s going to maintain it. It’s a deterrent to some extent but does it match the cost?”
Families were also encouraged to attend a meeting on Friday 27 April between 7pm and 10pm at Coalisland Parochial Centre to showcase the clubs, groups and opportunities available to young people in the community.
Organisations Breakthru, Opportunity Youth, Lilac and the Niamh Louise Foundation will also be attending the event to provide information on health and well-being.
Fr Paul said developing a steering group would help the community gain more leverage for funding.
He said: “We can go along and say, ‘We are not going to stand and wait – we want it now.’
“You’re calling everybody to action – We’re sending out a message to everyone that we do need to do something.
“As a group we do have more power.”
What do you think of Coalisland’s drug issues? Share your views by commenting below