Surge in offences makes drugs police’s top priority
A spike in drug offenders nabbed for possession and supply means police will make drug crime one of its main targets for this year.
Area commander, Lindsay Tulloch, is hoping organised crime groups will be deterred from trying to come into the isles to push their illegal goods during 2016.
Shetland has often been regarded as a lucrative market by south-based drug villains looking to make fast money by nefarious means.
Police this week attempted to take a pro-active approach against the drug trade, urging guest house owners to report any residents they may believe to be up to no good.
It came as Mr Tulloch revealed increased figures for drug-related crimes in the isles at Monday night’s meeting of the Lerwick Community Council.
He said seven people were reported for supply during 2014/15. However, that figure has so far risen to 23 in this financial year.
In terms of simple possession, there were 31 reported during 2014/15. But this year’s figure, which stood at 98 in November when the community safety and resilience board met in the town hall, had reached 109 by the beginning of this week.
“There is a significant increase in the quantity of drugs being used in the community,” Mr Tulloch told community council members.
“It appears to be a significant issue in the community and it’s something I want to address with the help of the community.
“Drugs are really my concern at the moment, and that is where I’ll be putting my priorities.”
He said a pro-active drugs team would deter organised crime groups from coming to the isles.
The chief inspector added police were working within the community to educate people away from drugs. In particular, he highlighted work being done in schools with the Dogs Against Drugs service which, he said, “gets a strong message across”.
His comments came as guest house and B&B owners were asked by police to stay vigilant and on the look-out for people with “suspicious cover stories”.
Proprietors were asked to keep an eye out for small groups attempting to secure accommodation.
In a media statement, detective sergeant Bryan Ronald said: “They prefer to use outlying remote rental properties, provide false cover stories and make payments in cash. Police advise owners to carry out simple crime prevention practices such as requesting identification of persons renting the property and carrying out routine property checks.
Usual business practice is to request identification verification, occupancy details and vehicle details.
“Be suspicious of any person who is hesitant/cannot provide such routine information, refuses entry for routine housekeeping, or conducts suspicious movements.”
Anyone who has seen suspicious activity should contact Lerwick police station.
Meanwhile, another main priority for police this year will be road safety.
Mr Tulloch said there had been one fatality on the roads last year, which had taken place in “very unfortunate circumstances”.
He said work was ongoing to try to promote a positive message to discourage speeding drivers, although last year’s accident which resulted in a fatality was not attributed to speeding.