Seizures of class A drugs such as heroin across the Northern Constabulary area almost doubled in the last year, findings from the Scottish government have shown.
The Scottish Policing Performance Framework Report, released on Wednesday, shows 211 class A offences were recorded in the force area during 2008/2009 – up 91.8 per cent on the previous year.
The report fails to provide specific statistics for the islands, but area commander David Bushell said the general increasing trend was being reflected in Shetland – although he suggested that was largely because pro-active policing in the area had led to more arrests.
The figures have emerged just weeks after isles sheriff Graeme Napier said the use of hard drugs was becoming increasingly common. Sentencing a Dunrossness supplier in December, he said heroin was now three times as prevalent in the isles as it was on average in Scotland.
Mr Bushell said: “The figures that have been published do show an increase in seizures of class A drugs and that has definitely been reflected in the Shetland area.
“Since I’ve been here in the last six months there have been a number of occasions when we’ve had intelligence-led, pro-active operations to detect drug dealers and those operations have been successful in their aims to take a number of large amounts of drugs off the street.
“Certainly the figures have gone up, but I would say that with that the amount of pro-activity that the police in Shetland has had has also increased.”
He said police needed to be “careful” when looking at figures and warned “not to read too much into them” because concerted police efforts would naturally lead to more arrests.
“Certainly I think a lot of that is down to being more pro-active in detecting drugs,” he said.
He added a multi-agency approach between different organisations was key to tackling Shetland’s drug problem, and found comfort – but not complacency – in the confidence people in the Northern Constabulary area find in their police officers.
“A lot of the partner agencies that we work with such as housing, education, social work and criminal justice, all have a part to play in this. And it is that joint working which I think is really going to help us be at the forefront of tackling drugs in the future.
“A lot of the consultation that we do does find that people are confident in the police, especially in Shetland, and that’s always something for us to be very proud of.
“We can’t be complacent about that confidence. It’s only there because of the hard work officers and staff do.”