Police warn Larne youngsters about dangers of drug addiction

The 'Pizza With Peelers' event at Greenland Community Centre. Pictured with an officer from Larne Neighbourhood Policing Team are PAL representatives Mary Todd, Annette White and Beverly Sharples, Gareth McConnell of Factory Community Forum (FCF), East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons, and Norman Thompson of FCF. INLT 23-671-CON
The 'Pizza With Peelers' event at Greenland Community Centre. Pictured with an officer from Larne Neighbourhood Policing Team are PAL representatives Mary Todd, Annette White and Beverly Sharples, Gareth McConnell of Factory Community Forum (FCF), East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons, and Norman Thompson of FCF. INLT 23-671-CON

Police in Larne have spearheaded a hard-hitting new campaign aimed at educating young people about the dangers of drugs and addiction.

Local officers joined forces with the Factory Community Forum to discuss the risks of both illegal drugs and so-called New Psychoactive Substances, formerly known as legal highs.

At Boyne Square on Friday evening, kids as young as 10 turned out for the first in a new series of joint initiatives by the PSNI and the Factory Community Forum.

The scheme, dubbed ‘Pizza With Peelers’, saw representatives from Preventing Addiction Larne (PAL) attend Greenland Community Centre to highlight the dangers of drugs misuse.

Gareth McConnell, community development worker with the Factory Community Forum said: “About a dozen young people showed up, aged between 10 to 19.

“This pilot project was very beneficial and we hope to be able to run one of these events every month starting from September, each focusing on a different issue.”

Beverly Sharples from PAL told the Times: “We split the youngsters into two groups, the younger ones and the older ones. The feedback was very good and the young people really participated.”

East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons also attended to show his support for the scheme and said: “I was really pleased to see this great initiative being set up to warn young people of the dangers of drugs.

It is always good to see preventative measures being taken by police, rather than simply responding to problems.”

A PSNI spokesperson said: “Whilst the pizza certainly helped draw the young people the real benefit of the night was the advice and offers of support given by Annette, Beverly and Mary from PAL, a worthwhile community group worthy of local support.”