POLICE are planning a major New Year drugs crackdown in Edinburgh amid growing concern about the number of dealers active in communities across the Capital.
Officers are expected to be given national back-up for a two-month exercise which will include surveillance operations and the use of intelligence to target suspects involved in supplying illegal drugs.
City police commander Chief Superintendent Kenny McDonald said education and prevention were the key to tackling the drug problem.
But he said drugs were a top issue of concern for the public and enforcement action was needed to deal with it.
He urged anyone with information about drug dealing to get in touch.
Latest crime statistics for the Capital show drugs supply offences overall in the six months to September 2016 were down by 22 per cent on the same period in 2015 – from 245 to 191.
But Chief Supt McDonald said a breakdown of the figures revealed that offences related to drugs supply in the community rose by 20 per cent – from 101 to 122 – while offences involving drugs taken into prison had fallen following an operation targeting that problem.
He said: “We want the strategy to be as preventive as possible – we already do a lot of work with young people and in schools trying to divert young people away from the dangers of drugs.
“Prevention is absolutely the key – but there is a public expectation that police will also undertake enforcement activity.
“We are working on an enforcement strategy on drugs intended to run during January and February and perhaps longer, to address concern about drugs. That’s very reliant on the public coming forward with information and intelligence about where drug dealing is taking place.
“And we would encourage anyone with information about drug dealing to contact Crimestoppers or their local community office.”
He said police could follow up information they received from the public using various methods, including covert tactics such as plain clothes officers undertaking surveillance.
“There is an element of drug dealing which is very organised but also an element that attracts antisocial behaviour. What I want to address in particular is those drug dealing activities that are most visible in the community and cause greatest concern.”
He said typical complaints police would receive in relation to drugs would be a string of people visiting a particular address on a regular basis, often at unsocial hours, possibly linked to antisocial behaviour or drugs paraphernalia found in a common stair.
“It’s very much more visible than the drug dealing that takes place higher up the organised crime chain. The more and better quality information people are willing to share with the police the more action we can take.”
Comment – Page 16