Battles won in war on drugs
Police disrupt dealers’ activities
DRUG dealers in the Oban area are having their operations severely disrupted thanks to a number of initiatives.
Police in the town have been aggressively targeting the drugs peddlers and have made serious inroads into their criminal activity.
Oban-based Inspector Mark Stephen told The Oban Times: ‘We have had a very positive year and very positive results in targeting serious and organised crimes and the supplies of all kinds of drugs in the Oban area.
‘Our efforts have been led by the community investigations unit, which has made serious inroads in targeting these groups and individuals. We have now got several cases in the criminal justice system waiting to appear in court which could be subject to custodial sentences.’
One of the major initiatives to have paid dividends has been the Shop a Dealer campaign, which saw gratifying involvement from and engagement with local communities.
Inspector Stephen explained: ‘We launched Shop a Dealer in December 2014 and it is, in fact, still running.
‘ What that campaign really did was to allow us to move forward and have a really successful year. It gave the public an opportunity to get in touch with us to high- light issues and their information has been vital.
‘People can see what is happening in their communities and, from that, different members of the public were giving us snippets of information. It’s a bit like a jigsaw – all these pieces of information can be put together to let us see a bigger picture.
‘It empowered the community to be involved and, when the public saw the police taking positive action, it reinforced the relationship between us. And from that we started building even better relationships.
‘People were stopping officers in the street and were happy to provide information because people don’t want drug dealers in their communities.’
Inspector Stephen was also quick to praise other agencies that have helped to degrade the drugs trade. ‘We have meetings with our partners in education, health and the third sector teams that provide counselling and addiction services.
‘Police Scotland on its own won’t solve the scourge of drugs. But when all the partners get together, we are much greater than the sum of our parts. And the community is very much part of that. When we get everyone pulling in the same direction, we can make a difference.
‘In the past year we have had substantial results in terms of tackling local drugs dealers. Once you get them rocking back on their heels, we can make inroads into their organisations.
‘And when you start to disrupt them, their operations begin to fragment and that means more opportunities for us to add to that.’
Inspector Stephen also added his voice to those that have welcomed the recent banning of so- called legal highs. ‘The ban is significant because of the profile of the people who were taking them. They were children and teenagers exposing themselves to all sorts of harm.
‘ We’ve had a number of incidents that required medical treatment. It was very important to get them banned because they posed a real danger as young people thought the word legal made them safe.’
Inspector Stephen also stressed that the drugs situation in Oban and the Argyll area was not as serious as in the inner cities but added that there was no room for complacency. He said: ‘The drugs problem is nothing like as prevalent or serious here as in Glasgow and the city centres but it does radiate out.
‘After all, we are only two hours away by car from the urban areas and the people who control these drugs are part of serious and organised crime. And they are always looking to increase their market and they’re always looking to extend their criminality.’