Heroin and crack cocaine are the main problem drugs in Laois. (Picture for illustration)
Portlaoise has a significant drug problem, with 40 local drug dealers arrested in the second quarter of this year alone and drug offences for the county up almost 90 percent in the last 12-month period.
That was the news at this week’s meeting of the Joint Policing Committee in Laois County Hall, where Chief Superintendent John Scanlon revealed that since the establishment of the local garda drug unit 40 dealers have been arrested in Laois.
“Portlaoise has a significant problem in relation to drugs,” he told Monday’s meeting, which was attended by Laois County Councillors, Deputy Brian Stanley, and community representatives.
He revealed that the arrests came about as a result of a covert clean streets operation where undercover gardaí bought drugs from dealers.
The crime figures disclosed at the meeting by Superintendent Anthony Pettit showed that overall drugs and weapons offences rose by close to 90 percent from the second quarter of 2016 to the same period this year, up from 46 to 87.
Arrests for drug dealing rose by 90.5 percent, up from 21 to 40, while simple possession went up 100 percent, from 18 to 36.
There was one case of the possession of a firearm this year, and possession of an offensive weapon rose by 42.9 percent, from seven up to ten.
Supt Pettit attributed this increase to the work of both the dedicated drug unit and the clean streets operation, and confirmed that this work will continue. He also said that drugs smuggled into the local prisons accounted for some of these offences.
In response to the figures, Deputy Brian Stanley said there was a need for the drug squad to be reformed as there was a huge amount of recreational drugs and a number of people have been taken ill after taking tablets which have been mixed with other substances.
“Some of these are professional people who should have more cop-on,” he said.
In a separate report given to the meeting by Ms Paula Byrne of Merchants Quay, it was stated that the main drug for which people are presenting for treatment in Laois is heroin, with the second most common being crack cocaine.