AN initiative to help remove prescription and illegal drugs from local streets by providing drug disposal bins at eight locations across the Derry City and Strabane District Council area has been launched.
The RAPID (Remove All Prescription and Illegal Drugs) is a joint initiative between the Derry City and Strabane District Council PCSP, the PSNI, the Public Health Agency (PHA) and the local Drug and Alcohol Coordination Team Connections Service.
Locally, the bins will be located at Hamilton's Spar, Castlederg and McKenna's Spar, Sion Mills. The six remaining areas are in the city; Bishop Street Community Centre, Old Library Trust, Gasyard Centre, Northside Shopping Centre, the Shantallow Community Residents Association and the HURT offices on Clarendon Street.
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, over 100,000 tablets have been deposited in Belfast RAPID bins alone, 90 per cent of which were prescription or over the counter medicines but illegal drugs were also deposited.
The agencies involved have been working closely with communities and businesses within their catchment areas to benefit from taking part in the initiative and having a RAPID drug disposal bin installed.
Welcoming the initiative - which was launched yesterday (Tuesday) in Castlederg, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, John Boyle said: "I am pleased to see this initiative launched and I would urge the public to take advantage of the opportunity to dispose of any legally or illegally held drugs at one of the seven locations across our council area.
"Items can be deposited discreetly and anonymously by anyone be it parents, young people or anyone in possession of drugs.
"I would like to congratulate the community and statutory agencies who have worked closely to roll this project out across our council area and I hope the scheme will help protect the public from the dangers or misusing prescription, illegal and new psychoactive substances."
Elsewhere, Denise McCallion, health and social wellbeing improvement senior officer with the Public Health Agency (PHA) explained: "Alcohol and drug misuse is a common issue and sadly causes suffering and tragedy to individuals, families and communities.