10th April 2020
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Drugs operation

58 comments, , by , in Headlines, News

A 20 year-old man has been reported following an police drugs operation, helped by the Dogs Against Drugs dog handler, Michael Coutts and his dog Nico.

The man was arrested in Lerwick yesterday after being found in possession of what police believe to be class A drugs with an estimated street value of more than £10,000.

Nico the nine-year-old blond Labrador has been working as a drugs detection dog in Shetland from the age of two years old. The top detection dog is due for retirement next year after an impressive career.

Inspector Lindsay Tulloch of the Police Scotland, Shetland Community Policing Team, said: “Drugs are a blight that are present in all communities, including the islands, and we are determined to deal with the issue on Shetland robustly with help from the public and our partner agencies.”


  1. Ian tinkler

    Legalise all controlled drugs. Supply to addicts under controlled conditions. Put the criminals out of business. End this misery, if Salmond had the balls to do this I may consider voting Yes. I am absolutely certain he is too stupid to do that.

  2. ian tinkler

    “Inspector Lindsay Tulloch of the Police Scotland, Shetland Community Policing Team, said: “Drugs are a blight that are present in all communities, including the islands, and we are determined to deal with the issue” What a total waste of police time and public funds. Why o why are our police and politicians so feeble minded and stupid to wage this silly war on drugs. Addictive personalities will always be with us, help not persecution is the answer. Criminalisation of drug and substance abuse does only one thing, makes the peddlers of misery wealthy. The consequences, young addicts becoming, thieves, prostitutes, violent muggers to finance their addiction., HIV infection, hepatitis and syphilis being merrily spread around, either sexually, anal sexually(rent boys) or I V needle sharing. All the pimps and professional criminals get very wealthy and our supper wet politicians, all of them, Cameron, Salmond, Scott, Carmichael, Robertson, Wiles , the whole feeble bunch sit on their hands and do nothing. How many more lives must be wrecked before our leaders realise the war on drugs has been long lost?

  3. Rachel Baker

    So Ian, the police are feeble minded and stupid for doing their job of enforcing the law are they?! Your constant tirade of insults is very tiresome

  4. ian tinkler

    Rachel Baker, my constant tirade of insults is very tiresome to you. So is the endless tide of misery created by the criminal drug industry, does that not require a tirade of insults aimed at the feeble minded whom stand by in silence and maintain the status quo.. A few notable members of the police force have called for a legalisation of drugs under controlled conditions. A few politicians, even the occasional country, with spectacular success (Switzerland for example). Most of the scientifically articulate have done likewise. Are you happy Rachel to do nothing? do you think the situation is OK as it stands at present. Are you happy to sit on your hands like so many without even voicing concern? Sorry if you find me tiresome, is that your only comment on the drug situation which has killed and ruined too many on Shetland, if so I can live easily with that in fact I find your opinion here, inconsequential and trifling.

  5. john jamieson

    addicts are not going to stop commiting crime to pay for drugs just because they are legal. think how much gets stolen by alcoholics to pay for a legal drug addiction and where would these drugs be sold i dont like going to the shop and having to rub shoulders with the white cider brigade. but if it was class a drug addicts buying there next hit i would be a lot more distressed.

  6. David Spence

    I certainly think they should (the politicians) decriminalise or make legal Cannabis as a recreational drug (said loosely lol). The amount of money the Government could make on legalising certain drugs (natural and manmade) through taxation could, I think, more than finance the long term consequences the drugs may have on a person.

    I hate to agree with Ian, but in many ways he is right about legalising (certain) drugs and reducing the misery, fraud (all the other crap that is put into drugs to make them heavier and significantly more dangerous) crime, gang crime and many other negative consequences drugs have on society.

    I am sure, if we knew then what we know now, we would have banned alcohol……..albeit the yanks tried this through prohibition and it was a complete failure (and opened the door for the Mafia to operate within the States).

    If you look at heroin production in Afghanistan (the worlds biggest producer) after the illegal invasion, it has increased quite a bit instead of being reduced……………..strange or what? lol

  7. ian tinkler

    Legalisation should be supple of drugs freely to registered addicts and administration of the same in a clinically safe environment. Counselling and treatment should go hand in hand. The legalisation along the lines of Switzerland, the criminals could not compete and the smuggling pushers and assorted parasites would soon be out of business. The real victims of the drug trade our the addicts, they are forced to get their supply by turning to crime being forever exploited by professional criminals, prostitution, HIv, hepatitis just a few of the downers once addicted. The big winners are hard criminal gangs. None of this would happen if a few feeble minded politicians and reactionary fools would quite there moralising and take a long hard look at how futile the “War on drugs has become” Just how many must die from ODs and revolting diseases, how many people will be assaulted, mugged and become the victims of countless crimes simple to pay the underworld for an addicts next fix. Just think, the police would have time to concentrate on profession gangs and not be running round in circles just occasionally netting the little fish. A few references for the ignorant.

    • Carl Pickard

      Some free advice Ian – if you’re including some references “for the ignorant”, it undermines your credibility to link to the Daily Mail.

  8. Joe Johnson

    Legalise drugs?! what a load of rubbish! keep up the good work shetland police

  9. Ian tinkler

    Just a thought for you Joe Johnson, the police seized , “class A drugs with an estimated street value of more than £10,000” , £10,000 would not cover the cost a of a single year’s supply of drugs for one addict. I am sorry to say the “Good Work” of the police is not enough to scratch the surface of Shetlands drug problems. A further thought for you Joe, where do you think a , drug addict would find , £10,000, to buy drugs ? Put your teenage child, niece, nephew or friends teenager in that position. Prostitution is the usual, maybe that is OK with you. Just give it some thought. Addicts are people too, often very gifted and charming, until they get hooked by professional criminals..I have seen five of my young patients literally disintegrate under drug addiction, their parents and family along side them.!

  10. Harry Howe

    I believe Ian Tinkler is correct, Sort of. Drug legalisation only works if very heavily controlled, However decriminalisation is the way to go. It will still be illegal to sell a controlled substance, however simply owning a controlled substance itself is not a crime. Portugal has done it, and the number of addicts has, shock and horror, fallen. Think about that before you start whining, it is the way forward.

  11. Rachel Buchan

    I don’t see what good legalising controlled drugs would do. There would still be unscrupulous people willing to try to flout the system.

  12. John N Hunter

    I am old enough to remember when heroin addicts got their drug on prescription from the doctor. There were only a few thousand heroin addicts in the UK at that point. Once it became illegal criminals realised that there was money to be made by getting people hooked so the problem has mushroomed. Until politicians admit the war on drugs was lost a long time ago we will see no progress.

  13. Joe Johnson

    Well well Mr Tinkler! The man who is all knowing all seeing and Shetlands self appointed moral advisor! Where would we be without you? lol 🙂 Ian you have your views and I have mine. I’m not going to waste my time arguing with you.

  14. Neil Anderson

    The truth is that the heroin problem escalated with introduction of dogs against drugs , cannabis became less available as did the party drugs , and the heroin use soared !

  15. Rosa Steppanova

    Addiction – of any kind – is an illness and should be treated as such. Criminalising addicted individuals doesn’t help anybody. It is high time we changed our drugs policy and followed the example of more enlightened countries such as Holland and Switzerland, where young lives are saved rather than destroyed.

  16. Rachel Baker

    Mr Tinkler, I note that you have somehow concluded that because I find your insults tiresome, that I support the status quo regarding drug policy. For the record, I do not. However, I will not be debating anything with you due to your lack of basic manners (and it seems I’m not alone) – it is an emotive and complex subject and needlessly calling people who don’t share your opinion ‘ignorant’, ‘feeble minded’, ‘fools’ and ‘stupid’ is very unconstructive and only serves to further polarise opinion.

  17. ian tinkler

    Thanks Joe, your lack of coherent argument absolutely tells its own storey. I mentioned earlier something about reactionary fools, I was not referring to you at that time, however maybe I should think again. Please prove me wrong, throwing sarcastic insults at me just makes you look foolish and belittles your own personal opinion, it shows nothing but a prejudicial and unfounded view.

  18. David Spence

    If certain drugs became legal or decriminalised I am sure this would focus more resources onto the police to tackle the more dangerous drugs like heroin or man made drugs which can have fatal consequences.

    I may be wrong, but a friend who lives in Edinburgh said to me ‘ If the police catch you with a very small amount of cannabis (for personal use) they will give you a warning ‘ If, however, you are caught a third time with the same quantity and use, you will be charged. It seems that the police down the road are more lenient in regards to using cannabis for personal use.

    I know many people may think that Cannabis is a gateway drug towards trying out harder drugs, but much of the evidence indicates this is not the case.

  19. Joe Johnson

    Ian, even I did debate with you, it would do no good as you are just someone who spends all his time here on readers views online looking for an argument. Drugs kill, drugs also causes lots of mental health problems. Drugs mess you up. I have known people who’s lives have been ruined by drug’s. I will never condone illegal drug use. Period! that is all I’m going say on this. Ian if you feel drugs should be legalised, go and say it to someone who has lost a loved one to drugs and tell me you feel the same

    • Brian Smith

      Do you think alcohol should be made illegal, Joe?

      • Joe Johnson

        Brian smith, alcohol is okay in moderation. Hard drugs like ecstasy or heroin etc can kill. Remember leah Betts in the mid 90’s? She took 1 ecstasy tablet at a party and died. She was only
        a teenager. I understand the point you are making but I still feel that drugs should not be legalised

    • Patrick Anderson

      You seem to be under the illusion that making drugs illegal makes them less prevalent or puts people off using them. You’re wrong. All it does is, in the absence of a regulated market, put the supply into the hands of dangerous criminals.

      It’s all good and well saying “drugs ruin lives, so let’s ban them” but many other things are harmful. As Professor Nutt once pointed out before he was sacked, taking ecstasy is less likely to harm you than riding a horse. And you don’t see horse-riding being made illegal.

      Drug laws have nothing to do with public health and everything to do with protecting the drinks industry’s profits. Drugs are harmful, there’s no denying that. But if we’re talking about health risks, then we should be treating drug abuse as a health issue, not a criminal issue.

    • Patrick Anderson

      Joe, I understand your concern, but alcohol is many, many times more dangerous than ecstasy. The case you speak of (Leah Betts) is of course tragic, but wasn’t a result of ecstasy itself, more a case of her drinking too much water as a response to the drug’s effects. In fact, most of the scaremongering tabloid stories and billboards were funded by the drinks industry, who were terrified that people would turn to a safer drug, and disproportionately focused on ecstasy while ignoring deaths from drugs like paracetamol, which are hardly ever reported.

      The whole drugs debate is corrupt to the core, and certain drugs are only illegal not on the grounds of health, but to protect business interests, and try and suppress the population’s critical thinking and open-mindedness. Alcohol is tolerated because it dumbs you down, so you’re not much of a threat to the establishment.

      Morally, there is no distinction between drinking and taking any other drug in moderate quantities. The only difference being that the booze industry has a firm hold on government and dictates their laws.

  20. ian tinkler

    To put this as simply as I can, hard drugs destroy in two ways. There is the simple toxicology (poisoning affect) and all the dangers produced by criminalisation. Far more die as a result of drugs being criminalised with drug gangs being the only source of supply. The reasons for that being multiple. A list just a few, unknown purity, cut with poison, unknown doses, contaminated produce (blood, urine faeces ect). Further to that we have inflated price forcing addicts into crime, prostitution, theft, mugging, further pushing of drugs, deliberately grooming children onto drugs to supply to pay for their own addiction. The list of misery is endless, all the way from financing the Taliban, Columbian and Mexican drug gangs right down to the Edinburg addicts ( Edinburgh: Drug Capital, HIV capital and street prostitution capital of Europe). Now by the simple act of de criminalisation and clinics supplying all addicts, the street pushers are out of business and all this misery has gone. Now in answer to those whom I regard as “ignorant’, ‘feeble minded’, ‘fools’ and ‘stupid’” as Rachael Baker so elegantly states. It is not those whom disagree with me whom I hold such utter contempt for. It is those whom do not accept the status quo yet lack the courage to fight for change, or even enter the debate. Numerous reasons being given, Rachael regarding me as too bad mannered to debate with being perhaps the most facile to date!! With regard to your comment Joe, a close friend and former work colleague lost her brother to drugs, on Shetland a few years back. His pusher was a patient of mine, now sent down. It was conversations with that friend which gave me an insight into the drug problems on Shetland.!! I list a few references of those who do accept my view.”Richard Brunstrom, chief constable of North Wales, said the existing legal framework was an abject failure, with illegal drugs cheaper and more widely available than ever and drug-related crime soaring.” That was the line I was referring to. Further references http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7038552.stm
    “End war on drugs, says Durham police chief Mike Barton” : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24320717
    Alcohol is more harmful than heroin or crack when the overall dangers to the individual and society are considered, according to a study in the Lancet. The report is co-authored by Professor David Nutt, a government chief drugs adviser: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11660210
    Nick Clegg: Britain must join debate on new approach to war on drugs.: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/feb/08/clegg-britain-must-join-drugs-debate
    Just food for thought “More than 91% of people surveyed globally are in agreement that the war on drugs has failed.” http://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/the-war-on-drugs-has-failed

  21. Harry Howe

    Once again, Ian is correct. Not only does having Drugs illegal also makes the more dangerous, But many of the prescription medication you get from your pharmacist have adverse medical effects, Such as Antidepressants, which, and I quote “Some people experience suicidal thoughts and a desire to self-harm when they first take antidepressants. Young people under 25 seem particularly at risk.”; Furthermore, Ketamine is used by Paramedics to relieve pain, as is Morphine, Which is produced from, Have a good guess, No? Heroin. By saying you do not condone Illegal Drug use, why do you then condone Legal drug use? Is Morphine not heroin? Are some medicines widely used in the Medical field, Such a Valium, an Opiate? I only say this because you say heroin ruins lives, But then why will you so happily let a paramedic give you morphine? Is it because its safe? Is it because it takes away the pain? Or is it because you are ignorant as to the effects morphine has on you? People have been addicted to morphine for years, and because of moderate use, They are fine? Why is Heroin (diacetylmorphine) , Cannabis (Tetrahydrocannabinol) , Cocaine (benzoylmethylecgonine), And the many more, So unacceptable to you?

    • Robert Lowes

      Actually no, morphine is not made from heroin. Nor is heroin made from morphine. However, the two are related, both being derived from opium. Morphine sulphate (commonly known as morphine) has been available since 1817. It is a refined form of opium, with the advantage that it provides a known, measured dosage to the medical profession. Diacetylmorphine is a synthesised version of morphine created in 1874 and sold over-the-counter as a cough medicine under the brand-name ‘Heroin’. It was advertised as being a less-addictive substitute to morphine. Ironically, the acetyl molecules added during the production of Heroin make it about three times as addictive as morphine, as it allows Heroin to absorbed into the brain more quickly. So no, the two are not quite the same.

  22. ian tinkler

    Harry, Robert you are discussing the pharmacology of the pure drugs, what the average addict gets from a pusher is a little different. For example an opiate will be a mixture of whatever is doing the round cut with a diluting powder of some type. Arsenic and rat poison have turned up in some batches. Further to that it is usually prepared into small amounts by a pusher. Usually another addict, if he or she has been ” Cold Turkey” recently, contaminants will be sweat, mucus, Diarrhoea and urine . Also blood will be a contaminant, going IV on yourself is a bloody business, hand washing is not a common practise with pushers, latex gloves and condoms are rarely worn!! That blood will be a further cocktail of pathology, Hepatitis A, B and C, perhaps syphilis, human papilloma virus and HIV. Most addicts have septic IV sites, a bit of Staphylococcus aureus pus may be present (aureus meaning golden due to pus colour). The NHS will give clean needles, not much point when you see what is being injected, but at least a start. Now cutting the criminality out of this nightmare won’t solve the drug problem overnight, but it will save a huge amount of misery and disease.

    • Robert Lowes

      It may surprise you to know Ian, that I’m actually in agreement with you in the way we currently treat addicts. Clean supplies of heroin administered by a GP would massively decrease petty crime normally used to fund that addiction, not to mention instances of disease, overdosing, and largely drive dealers out of business.

      However, having personally worked alongside Dogs Against Drugs and seen how effective both they and their partners in the police force are at curbing the destruction that drugs wreak upon families and our community in general, I have nothing but admiration and praise for them. Whether the current system of drug treatment works in your or my opinion or not, the front line services who do their level best to keep drugs off our streets and their dedication in doing so deserve our thanks, our support, and not least our respect.

  23. Harry Howe

    In response to Robert Lowes, Sorry I was ill informed. I’ll put my hands up and say I was wrong about Morphine,

    And Ian, With legalisation, It will increase purity, because companies realise they can make millions off the back of addicts. Which isn’t a bad thing. Cleaner product = Less toxicants = Safer product.

  24. Patrick Anderson

    Dogs Against Drugs is a massive waste of money. Bringing the dogs into Lerwick’s bars and pubs and onto buses makes a lot of people edgy and mistrustful of the police. And no, I’m not talking about the big time dealers, but your average joe who might enjoy an odd spliff at the weekend and happen to have left some in his pocket.

    Prohibition doesn’t work. As long as there is a demand for a drug, there will be supply. Every arrest just results in a temporary drop in supply, and a rise in prices. The price hikes only tempt more dealers to come and fill the gap.

    How about the Shetland Police actually go and do something useful, instead of chasing round harmless kids with a bit of weed or a pill or two.

  25. Rachel Baker

    Yet another false assumption about me Mr Tinkler. I do not ‘accept the status quo’ nor do I ‘lack the courage to fight for change, or even enter into a debate’ nor do I care if you hold me in ‘such utter contempt’ – you are welcome to your opinions, and you are obviously very fond of your own opinions.

    I do, however, reserve my right not to enter into a ‘debate’ with someone who shows a lack of courtesy to others and resorts to hurling insults around that, in my humble opinion, does nothing more than divert potentially constructive discussion toward pointless bickering.

    Your definition of ‘debate’ is obviously at odds to my own interpretation of the word, which is a shame as you do raise some interesting points with which I agree but your points are certainly not enhanced by insulting the very people you should be engaging or lobbying for change.

  26. Ali Inkster

    I don’t have any official statistics but I would say going by press reports that drug deaths have increased in Shetland since the introduction of dogs against drugs. Heroin certainly seems to be a lot more prevalent than it was before DAD got involved. My experience from travelling around the world is that prohibition does not work even when the penalty for dealing even small amounts is death. I am also concerned that since the invasion of Afghanistan that opium production in that country has increased many times over, and is being sold to criminal gangs for processing into heroin. Why are they not buying it of the farmers and using what is needed for medical reasons and destroying the rest? Why are they alienating some of the Afghan farmers by destroying the only cash crop they have yet failing completely in their task of eradicating the opium? It makes me wonder if the powers that be really want to stop the heroin trade. It would seem there is too much money to be made by the criminals and the governments for this to end. Just who is responsible for this scourge on our young folk?

    • Laurence Paton

      Very true Ali, the troops of the western alliance went into Afghanistan and during the period of their occupation the production of raw opium was reported to have at least trebled? It certainly makes me wonder where the proceeds of this multi billion dollar covert industry ends up.
      Also when looking at the history of prohibition, there is nothing that quite matches the murder and mayhem that unfolded when the American government made alcohol illegal. Vast criminal empires made a lot of money and many people died or went blind drinking such tipples as ” boiler room gin”.
      To continue to promote and defend the war on drugs with facts such as these well known and also clear evidence of successful alternative approaches in countries such as Switzerland , Portugal , Holland and Uruguay shows in my opinion, that the establishment is happy to keep the majority of the population in an uninformed ignorance, perhaps because it is an emotional issue that voters will continue to vote in favour of even though it isn’t working.

    • Robert Lowes

      “I don’t have any official statistics but I would say going by press reports that drug deaths have increased in Shetland since the introduction of dogs against drugs.”

      Right – so essentially, you’re making a statement based purely upon your perception of local headlines, but have no evidence to back it up. Conjecture is not fact.

      What I would say is that since the introduction of Dogs Against Drugs, the ability to detect and prevent drugs entering Shetland has dramatically increased, and thus the frequency of local media reports to do with drug detection has risen in proportion with that.

      • Ali Inkster

        If they are so damn successful why are so many folk dying from drug overdoses Robert. And your final statement is nothing but pure conjecture.

  27. Wayne Conroy

    Joe… I think it’s very closed minded of you to put all drugs in the same category. I have to agree with Mr Tinkler (a very rare occurrence!) on this matter… Just a shame he has to insult people in the process.

    There are many types of “drugs” and people are always going to be drawn to taking them because of the effect they have when taken. They include the likes of caffeine, cigarettes and alcohol. Why are some illegal when others are not? Is it because of the harm they cause? If that is the case I can bet you anything that alcohol causes a lot more health problems and a hell of a lot more social problems than the likes of cannabis! Is it because of the possible long term effects of these drugs? I know many people who take cannabis daily (some for 30yrs or more) that have managed perfectly well to hold down jobs and are productive members of society… I wish I could say the same for those I know that drink daily!

    No… They are illegal because of closed minded people such as Mr Johnson above who categorize all drugs the same and create a public perception of “all drugs are evil”.

    As a person who has (in my youth) tried most of these illegal and prescription drugs personally I believe I can look at this subject without prejudice from a knowing perspective. In my opinion alcohol and prescription drugs such as valium are far more harmful (not just to the persons health but to society in general) than most illegal drugs. Unlike most illegal drugs, alcohol and prescription drugs can cause people to forget themselves and do things that can be very out of character. I did many stupid things I am not proud of when I was a teenager and must say that they were 100% drink related… It was never related to drugs (although I must say that I was lucky enough to not become addicted to any of the harder drugs I experimented with).

    In my opinion there are two type of people that take drugs. There are recreational drug users and there are addicts.

    The recreational drug users mostly just smoke cannabis. Just like the people that have a couple of drinks to relax, they smoke a couple of joints, have a nice peaceful night not bothering anyone and not causing any problems. As I said before they also hold down jobs and are productive members of society. It may surprise some people that cannabis is taken by a HUGE proportion of the population – A lot more than many would ever believe! In the past I have personally smoked it with people from all professions including the likes of doctors, lawyers and yes, even policemen.

    Then you have the addicts. In my experience most addicts have become addicted by trying harder drugs due to lack of availability or high expense of the likes of cannabis. Just imagine if there was no more lager or beer or if the price of these shot up… Most drinkers would then turn to harder liquor in order to get a similar relaxing effect as their couple of beers… The knock on effect would be more people becoming alcoholics.

    As for the people that do abuse cannabis and smoke too much… At least they mostly just sit on their butts – they certainly don’t create the same problems as someone who has drunk too much alcohol. You don’t see someone stoned on cannabis going out fighting and causing criminal damage… that would take too much effort! If you were to put a system in place where cannabis was available to purchase then it could be taxed in a similar way to alcohol and instead of money being spent chasing these so called “criminals” that money could be used to help society deal with the problems that the harder drugs (including alcohol) are causing.

    I truly believe cannabis is only a “gateway drug” because it is illegal. If you remove the need for many cannabis smokers to associate with many of the criminal gangs up the chain that supply the cannabis you would also remove the chances of these people even considering taking many of the harder substances as it would not even be offered as an alternative “high” when cannabis wasn’t available.

    I have lost many, many friends to drugs. I believe many of these deaths could have been avoided if, like legal and readily available alcohol, cannabis (which is less harmful) had been more available to them. Even more deaths could have been avoided if help had been given to those that did take the harder drugs and they had been able to obtain them in a controlled environment where the purity of these drugs was controlled and the supply had barriers put in place with an emphasis on reducing and eventually removing the need for these people to take them.

    I’m not saying we should make all drugs legal… far from it. I do however think that the categorising of many drugs needs to be looked at from the perspective of the damage they can cause the person taking them and the damage they can cause to society around those that take them.

    In my opinion until this country changes it drug policies they are just helping create the problem rather than helping find a solution.

  28. ian tinkler

    Robert , I agree with you regarding Dogs against drugs. Also I have no problem with front line police, the old Quote “Lions led by Donkeys comes to mind”. Sadly, with a few noticeable exceptions the higher one goes up the chain of command, the more out of touch and stupid the leadership with regard to drug policy.
    My contempt is also for the vote hungry politicians whom let this happen and the silent apathetic majority whom say nothing.

  29. Patrick Anderson

    Ali, you are absolutely spot on.

    I know it’s not a popular view, but throwing heroin addicts in jail or punishing them doesn’t make them clean up their acts. All it does is render them even more unemployable as, if they receive a criminal record for their drug use, it will be even harder for them to get a job. So by using law enforcement to deal with the problem you’re actually creating a less employable population of addicts who will more than likely still be addicted, and where will they get their money if they can’t get a job? Crime.

    My preferred option for dealing with hard drug addicts is referral to a compulsory drug treatment or drug awareness course. Money from law enforcement could be saved and re-invested into education and health services for drug users. They need to create an incentive- if the addicts are provided with, say, a small clean dosage of heroin, on the condition that they must attend weekly meetings with a drug counseller, then hopefully they will have more chance of reducing their use, and eventually quitting drugs altogether. This would also reduce the incentive to turn to crime, if the drug can be prescribed in moderate quantities.

    No addict is going to quit on the basis of law enforcement. I have known many ex-addicts and they do not deserve to be treated as criminals, it is a legitimate illness and persecution of ill people will only make the problem worse. As will having no alternative to dangerous, contaminated street heroin.

    Nobody is saying it’s perfect, and of course any approach should discourage drug use as much as is humanely possible. But we have to be realistic. No amount of drugs crackdowns will remove the scourge of drugs, and all they do is force addicts to deal with dangerous criminals to get their fix.

  30. ian tinkler

    Rachel, What I stated was “It is not those whom disagree with me whom I hold such utter contempt for. It is those whom do not accept the status quo yet lack the courage to fight for change, or even enter the debate. ” No wrong assumptions about you here, my remarks were not aimed at your lack of courage, that was your assumption alone.. For someone whom will not enter this discussion you seem to be writing rather a lot! Your personal opinions about me have no relevance to The war on drugs, or the sad condition of our addicts. As I stated earlier, to date I regard your opinion and input about myself as inconsequential, and trifling. They are irrelevant to the drugs issue. Now just calm down and read what I actually wrote.

  31. ian tinkler

    Legal highs blamed for two Shetland deaths . War on Drugs? how many more?

  32. Robert Lowes

    @ Ali Inkster

    “If they are so damn successful why are so many folk dying from drug overdoses Robert. And your final statement is nothing but pure conjecture.”

    No, it’s an educated statement. Thanks to the work of Dogs Against Drugs, we can detect more instances of people attempting to bring drugs into Shetland. Therefore, those people are going to be arrested. Therefore, that information will be released to the press and make a headline. Not hard to work out.

    Conjecture on the other hand, is making a baseless statement like this.

    “I don’t have any official statistics but I would say going by press reports that drug deaths have increased in Shetland since the introduction of dogs against drugs.”

    Ok, let’s get the official statistics from the Scottish Government. You can get them here:

    If you look at Table HB1, you’ll find the statistics for drug-related deaths for each NHS region. For Shetland, in 2002, the number of drug-related deaths was one. There were no deaths recorded in the years 2003 & 2004. 2005 saw one death, while for 2006 and 2002 there were two deaths each. 2008 saw one drug related death, with none recorded the following year in 2009. There were two drug-related deaths in 2010, three in 2011 and two in 2012.

    Now, as Dogs Against Drugs began in operation around 2002, we can see that over the following decade, the number of deaths related to drugs has remained consistently low. There’s been no huge spike since Dogs Against Drugs began, and quite honestly, to suggest they are ineffective in keeping drugs out of Shetland is perhaps one of the stupidest claims you could make. Given the myriad number of ways drugs can enter Shetland (and having seen how successful Dogs Against Drugs are at checking these points of entry with my own eyes), it would be hard to imagine they haven’t had a significant impact at keeping the number of drug-related deaths in Shetland low. Indeed, drug-related fatalities have been rising in Scotland since 1997, so the very fact that Shetland’s figures are still remarkably low are something we should perhaps take solace in, rather than wild baseless speculation of the type you were indulging in earlier.

    • Ali Inkster

      Robert if you would care to revisit your graphs you will see that once the error is taken account Shetland has the highest number of drug related deaths in the country, so DAD must be an outstanding success.
      As they say lies, damn lies and statistics.

      • Robert Lowes

        Ali, you haven’t actually explained what “the error” you’re so keen to hang your hat on is. However, looking through the figures again, I am unable to find it. However, in the various tables within the report, it is quite clear the the number of fatalities caused by drugs in Glasgow and the Clyde region are regularly in the hundreds per year, whereas the number of fatalities in Shetland are in single figures only for the same years.

        With regard to your second point and the ‘discrepancy’ in table HB3, I’m afraid you’ve incorrectly interpreted the figures. The purpose of that particular table is to show the instances where a pathologist has recorded the presence of a particular drug that was a contributing factor to that fatality. I can only assume you either missed or completely ignored the footnote explaining that more than one drug could be recorded per death, nor should they be added up to give the total number of deaths. I’m afraid I cannot be held responsible for your misinterpretation because you didn’t read the instructions.

        Of course, the other possibility is that you’re deliberately bending the figures to back up your original point, which would take a special kind of pedantry. Yes, Ali – lies, damn lies and statistics is that oft-used phrase.

    • Ali Inkster

      Also just how accurate are these statistics when you look at the table HB3 you will see that it states that overall drug deaths for 2012 is 2 yet 1 died from methadone, 1 from diazepam and 1 from alcohol now my arithmetic may not be correct but 1+1+1= 3.

      • Ali Inkster

        Oh and I forgot to mention all 3 are legal one available to buy from the shop for anyone over the age of 18 and the other 2 handed out freely at any pharmacy with a bit of paper from the doctor.

  33. tracy arthur

    I’m at an age where drugs are impacting my life and most around me. To say all drugs are evil and should be illegal is moronic. Studies have shown the psychedelic compound in magic mushrooms can help people with PTSD and after a good trip people feel overall happier and more content with their lives. I’ve not heard of many cases of mushroom addiction.
    Mdma (ecstacy, for those who don’t know) is being studied as a cure for tinnitus.. People who have the problem find that after taking a dose of mdma the ringing stops.
    And cannabis. Let’s face it nearly everyone does it, has tried it or knows someone who smokes. Everyone should look up Rick Simpson. People have literally CURED their terminal cancer with cannabis oil. People who have been told by professional doctors that they are going to die have cured their own cancer with the use of the oil. Don’t believe me? Look it up. Cannabis is my favourite kind of drug, legal and illegal. If we were properly educated in schools instead of being told “all drugs or bad and addictive” hearing “some drugs should never be touched, others you will probably try and this is what you should do to prevent death or other bad effects”. I knew nothing about drugs other than they were bad and we should stay away from them. Considering how many people take drugs and are going to, shouldn’t we inform kids on how to do it safely? And no, I’m not saying this so that kids think it’s okay to take drugs but everyone knows when you get to a certain age, experimenting happens. I would have much rather been given some Frank truths about drugs that could’ve helped me than realising “they’re lying” after smoking cannabis.
    Alcohol has caused me a MASSIVE amount of problems in comparison to any illegal drug I’ve taken. I work in a pub, I would much rather live in Amsterdam and serve customers who ask politely for drinks and smoke than inebriated idiots who cause fights, grope you and overall make a massive fuss, fight anything and mess.
    Not all drugs should be illegal. Some drugs do have positive effects on your health, why should alcohol and cigarettes be legal when they cause cancer and the thing that can cure it be illegal?

    • George Holliday

      The problem with cannabis is that it is very difficult for large corporations to monopolize. It is too easily grown, unlike good tobacco, or home brewed alcohol, which require considerable specialist know-how. The price of cannabis could never be fixed nor could it be effectively taxed because it would be too abundant and too cheap for big business to profit from if it were legal.

      MDMA, on the other hand, is another very safe drug with enormous benefits. Of course it has its risks, but compared to alcohol, they are minute. MDMA can be a very euphoric experience (I have had many) and an eye-opener, something that alcohol cannot achieve. My gut feeling is that the booze industry is terrified that people will see that their product is inferior and as such are lobbying government to pretend that MDMA is dangerous so it can be made illegal. A good example is the death of Leah Betts- bilboards paid for by the alcohol industry- falsely claiming that ecstasy killed her when it was in fact over-hydration due to misinformation that caused this tragedy. The fact is this death, tragic as it may be, was over-reported when dozens of paracetamol deaths, a perfectly legal drug, occur each year that are never reported.

      So yep, drugs are illegal a) to protect profits b) to dumb down the population and c) because politicians are too scared of losing votes.

  34. Joe Johnson

    I’ve read all the comments here including those who disagree with my view that drugs should not be legalised. I respect your opinions ( except Ian Tinkler’s who just makes insults at people) and understand the points that have been made and very good ones as well. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not always right and do get it wrong at times. I’m only human. Its just I fear legalised drugs like heroin, cocaine etc would only cause more harm then good. Some good points have been made that some drugs can help people with illnesses. If that is the case then yes it should be given to patients on prescription. I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree otherwise we’ll be debating till the cows come home and it achieves nothing

  35. David Spence

    You raise a few good points there Tracy.

    I do think Cannabis should be decriminalised or made legal as, if you look at the vast uses Hemp had, the use of the drug, I think, would have a more positive affect towards society in terms of the multitude of uses it could have in industry, medicine, textiles etc etc.

    Yes, there should be certain drugs which should be banned or made illegal, but where do you draw the line between natural and man-made substances which can have a devastating on individuals and society as a whole, between justifying legislation to banning a drug to protect society or making it legal purely for marketing reasons and this of reducing crime?

    As said previously, would we have banned alcohol knowing what we know now and the massive negative impact it has on society………compared to smoking and legal and illegal drugs (Cannabis)???? or do we just continue to use alcohol because society is so addicted too it and is sociably engrained within us that we would feel society would not function without it OR because the cost of policing it would be too big a price for society to pay (USA – Prohibition).

    There is massive hypocrisy within our legal system in allowing a drug (alcohol) to pervade society in such a way as to cause some much devastation to individuals, families and society (crime, social disorder, conflict, stealing, strain on nhs, police, ambulance services etc etc ) (I suspect more deaths are caused by alcohol in 1 year than any any other drug, including smoking)

  36. ian tinkler

    Two dead in Shetland from “Legal Highs”: The paradox is here that these substances are legal to supply and use, there is no control over them whatsoever. Any chemist with a rudimentary knowledge of pharmacy can cook up a substance and sell it to someone as a “legal high”. It will remain legal until legislated against, then another one will be cooked up. There is no legal solution to this whatsoever. Now these legal highs are substances unknown to the medical profession. They are infinitely more dangerous than known illegal drugs simply because no one has any idea of the toxicology. How anyone can say that the present drug enforcing is ,sane, sensible and fit for purpose is quite beyond me. Even if DFD or the police found a ton of legal highs on the boat, they would have no legal power to size then at all, they are quite legal!!! even if lethal., War on Drugs! what a farce! I am sorry, but I stand by all my previous comments, only a fool could and would accept the status quo without question. There can be no excuse, if you do not accept the status quo, for passively saying and doing nothing when lives are being destroyed so cheaply. ” All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men, (and women) to do nothing”.

  37. Robert Lowes

    @ Ali Inkster

    “Oh and I forgot to mention all 3 are legal one available to buy from the shop for anyone over the age of 18 and the other 2 handed out freely at any pharmacy with a bit of paper from the doctor.”

    In which case, your original (baseless and farcical) statement about Dogs Against Drugs increasing the number of drug-related fatalities has absolutely no bearing on the two deaths recorded for that year. Their job is to detect and prevent illegal drugs entering the islands – not to police prescription medicines from your GP, or alcohol bought from the off-license.

    • Ali Inkster

      My original statement was that drug deaths had increased in the time since DAD were introduced not that they were the cause. And I will stick by it If you want to argue semantics then do it with someone else. But I have watched a hell of a lot of folk that used to like a smoke of dope switch to heroin when the dogs came to Shetland and the supply of bulky smelly hash and marijuana decreased and the supply of heroin increased. Every time I returned home more and more folk were hooked, I would also note that the doctors would hand out seriously strong pain “killers” at the drop of a hat.

      • Robert Lowes

        You can stick by your original statement as much as you like, Ali – it’s still factually wrong. You just need to look at the figures to see that.

      • Ali Inkster

        “You can stick by your original statement as much as you like, Ali – it’s still factually wrong. You just need to look at the figures to see that.”

        Is it Robert is it? if you look at table HB1 you will see that the yearly average of drug related deaths 1998 to 2002 was 1 the average annual drug related deaths from 2008 to 2012 had DOUBLED to 2.

        Then when you compare these figures to Orkney where there is no sniffer dogs then we really don’t look good at all.

  38. Ali Inkster

    I would also recommend that you read Peter Jamiesons book “A design for life” if you want to know more about how folk can fall into the trap of drink and drugs.

  39. Michael Inkster

    On the subject of statistics, I recall reading this interesting article on the BBC news website some weeks ago: “Spurious correlations: Margarine linked to divorce? ://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27537142. It’s all about correlations and causal links.

    I don’t know the answers to this complex subject but statistics can have their limitations especially when such relatively low numbers are involved. Michael Inkster

  40. ian tinkler

    Gentlemen, these figures are truly meaningless. Drugs deaths ? these are overdose deaths. Now how about further deaths caused by drug use, or misuse. Hepatitis deaths, Aids deaths, cancer deaths from hep C and Human papilloma virus, Liver failure from hep B. Sepsis, pneumonia, addicts murdered (usually prostitutes), suicide amongst addicts and distraught relatives.. Driving deaths, whilst drug impaired. The lists go on and on. It always strikes me as ironic, deaths caused by alcohol are seldom due to overdose or for that matter smoking deaths, but however they are statistically published and listed in the tens or hundreds of thousand, whilst drug deaths in the tens (OD only). It is amassing how politicians massage statistics to hide the truth.


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