Northern Ireland drug removal scheme to be rolled out following successful pilot

An initiative known as RAPID (Remove All Prescription and Illegal Drugs), which is helping to remove illegal and prescription drugs by providing drug disposal bins, is to be rolled out across Northern Ireland after a successful pilot. 

There are currently 14 bins in existence, sited mainly in the Belfast, South Eastern and Northern Health and Social Care Trust (HSCT) areas. To date over 65,000 tablets (over 90% of which have been prescription drugs) have been removed from circulation through this project.

The Public Health Agency (PHA) and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) will be working closely with local Drug and Alcohol Coordination Teams (DACTs) and Policing and Community Safety Partnerships (PCSPs) to identify and then work with communities and businesses within their catchment areas who may benefit from taking part in the initiative and having a RAPID drug disposal bin installed. 

Kelly Gilliland, Senior Health Improvement Officer at the PHA, said: “Alcohol and drug misuse is a common issue and causes suffering and ill health to individuals, families and communities in Northern Ireland.

“The RAPID initiative was initially piloted in 2010, and due to its success, as a joint health and community safety initiative, all of the partners are keen that it is further developed and expanded over coming years to install further bins across Northern Ireland, enabling more people and communities to learn more about the risks and dangers of drug misuse and to dispose of unwanted drugs easily and discreetly.”

RAPID has three aims:

  • Removal of prescription, illegal and new psychoactive substances (often referred to as ‘legal highs’ and now illegal following the introduction of the Psychoactive Substances Act in May 2016) from communities.
  • Provision of information and support to individuals, families, local businesses and community organisations to raise awareness of the effects and risks of using/misusing illegal and/or prescription drugs.
  • Bringing together community and statutory agencies, local businesses and the general public under the RAPID initiative to work towards making their local community a safer place to live.

“The aim is that by the end of 2016/17 every trust area will have access to a number of RAPID drug disposal bins,” added Kelly.

“The bins provide a safe way for anyone to dispose of drugs whether they are prescribed or illegal simply by dropping them into the box. Items can be deposited anonymously by anyone – be it parents, young people or any person in possession of drugs that have the potential to cause harm. By disposing of the drugs in the bin, they are permanently and securely removing them from potential misuse. The harmful consequences of drugs, even prescription drugs, falling into the wrong hands cannot be emphasised enough.”

Drug and Alcohol Coordination Teams and PCSPs will be working together alongside local communities to identify suitable locations where these bins can be installed. Should you have, or come across, unwanted or unused drugs (whether prescribed or illegal) you are encouraged to deposit them in a RAPID bin safely and discreetly, enabling police to then dispose of them and ensuring that they are out of ‘harm’s way’ for good.

For more information on existing RAPID bins and/or how to contact your local Drug and Alcohol Coordination Team (DACT) and/or Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) to express an interest visit: