Co-operation of public helps tackle drugs menace in town

HELP from the public has proved the key to turning the tide on Shetland’s drugs menace.

Lerwick Community Council heard co-operation from residents in the town was invaluable to the police throughout their investigations.

However concerns were raised at the Town Hall meeting on Monday night when it was revealed Northern Constabulary had no specific statistics revealing drug arrests.

Sergeant Bruce Gray said police had received “fantastic assistance” from the community.

He said: “Shetland is still leading Northern Constabulary, and Northern Constabulary is leading Britain. Generally I think we have one of the highest detection rates in Britain.

“That doesn’t necessarily reflect crime is going up, it’s just more people are reporting these crimes.”

Statistics for October outlined to community councillors showed that while some crimes had risen slightly on the same period last year, detection remained very good.

Lerwick South councillor Gussie Angus welcomed the news more people were coming forward, but he was looking for figures of crimes associated with drugs.

“I hope this will encourage all members of the public to co-operate with the police and try to combat this growing menace.

“Are drug offences pushing the overall crime rate up?” he asked.

Sergeant Gray said Shetland was a “unique case” in that overall crime still remained low.

“We don’t have a great deal of crime that normally goes hand in hand with drugs.”

He said many drug users remained in work, meaning they could afford to indulge in their habits without resorting to crime.

“They are working on a daily basis. We have to hope the economy doesn’t dip too much up here. If it does we might start to see a difference.”

Fellow Lerwick South councillor Jonathan Wills called for a regular break-down of drug figures, which would reveal “what percentage there is of class A drugs, and what percentage are possession and peddling”.

The committee also heard calls for a stronger presence at the Holmsgarth ferry terminal to detect drugs coming into Shetland.

Damion Ristori said having the drugs dog at the terminal for half an hour after the boat came in was of little use if passengers could stay on board until 10 o’clock.

Sergeant Gray said it was often a “game of cat and mouse”, but it was often better to return on an irregular basis to catch smugglers off their guard.

He added many would still be able to get in their cars and drive off anyway.

Meanwhile, police numbers are getting back up after the recent retirement of sergeant Finlay MacBeath.

Sergeant Jason Beeston is moving from shifts to community safety, and two new sergeants are being appointed, one of which will be going to Brae.

There are, however, still no signs of a new traffic warden being appointed.


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