100 arrested in legal highs crackdown in Southside

Police officers raided a number of areas in Southside after complaints. Picture: TSPL
Police officers raided a number of areas in Southside after complaints. Picture: TSPL
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A CRACKDOWN on legal highs and other drugs in Southside has seen 100 people arrested by police.

Following complaints from residents and businesses about drug use in Dumbiedykes, Upper Grey Street, Nicolson Street and Potterrow, officers set up Operation Austinburg to tackle the issue.

The problem of legal highs – also known as new psychoactive substances (NPS) – has been particularly prevalent. Those who were arrested were found in possession of either cannabis, heroin or legal highs.

Council environmental wardens are on patrol targeting 
areas where repetitive antisocial behaviour has been occurring.

Councillor Cameron Rose, of Southside/Newington ward, welcomed the recent arrests, but believes more still needs to be done to protect constituents.

He said: “This police activity, and particularly the arrests, is very welcome.

“Along with their excellent recent work along with Trading Standards on NPS sales I can see it has made an improvement on the streets. But there is still much to be done.

“Police need to keep up the pressure on drug dealers – I know from constituents there is still significant illegal drugs activity in the Southside.

“They destroy lives and result in antisocial behaviour which affects a wide range of people.”

The activity carried out as part of the operation has involved around 2000 visits to stairs and public areas to 
deter drug use, as well as five intelligence-led searches of properties.

Officers also seized £15,000 worth of drugs from around 80 individuals. The initiative comes after the council was last month given the green light by the courts to seize legal highs from so-called “head shops”.

Chief Inspector Mark Rennie, area commander for South Edinburgh, said: “Our activity on the ground to tackle drug misuse and street dealing is having a real impact.

“Officers are out on foot patrol targeting the problem on a daily basis and we’ve received excellent support from the council’s community safety team to address security and access issues identified

“The operation also coincides with the strategic level activity carried out by Police Scotland and City of Edinburgh Council to prevent the sale and distribution of new psychoactive substances across the city.”

Cllr Cammy Day, community safety leader for the city council, said: “Antisocial behaviour can have a devastating effect on communities, and it is well known that drugs and alcohol can cause this type of behaviour to worsen.

“We are committed to making communities safer and do so by working closely with Police Scotland on initiatives such as Operation Austinburg to help reduce these incidents.”