AN Alliance councillor has said police should have more powers to confiscate solvents from young people, after a judge jailed three glue sniffers for a total of four years for a “horrific, violent and degrading” attack on their friend in Belfast on Friday.
The victim was badly beaten in an attack after he refused to share lighter fuel with others. Latest figures show that solvent-related deaths doubled from two to four in 2000/1.
Cllr Dickson said the PSNI did not have enough powers to remove solvents from abusers, and that since the Government had banned the sale of lighter fuel to young people in 1999, some young people had even turned to experimenting with disposable lighters.
Cllr Dickson said: “Cheap, disposable lighters are easily available from any newsagents or street vendor. Although shop keepers cannot sell cans of lighter fuel to young people, they can sell the actual lighters containing the fuel.
“Some young people are using the easy availability of these lighters to get a cheap thrill, despite the fact that they could be killed instantly. Glue sniffing is another form of volatile substance abuse that is popular and shop keepers need to be vigilant about who they are selling these products to.
“Unfortunately, there is little police can do to stop substance abuse on the streets under the current law. While it may not be an arrestable offence to abuse harmful substances in public, it can quickly lead to problems, such as anti-social behaviour.
“I believe the police need more powers to do more than simply move people along when they are obviously high in public and causing a nuisance. Parents also have a duty to make sure their children are aware of the dangers and that they don’t get involved in substance abuse. One sniff can end a child’s life, and that is something no parent wants.”