‘The authorities’ determination is to be praised’

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The initial reaction to our story about a £2 million drug dealer being forced to cough up just £142 and a fancy watch is to assume the authorities haven’t tried hard enough.

How could such a man – said to have amassed at least £86,000 of ill-gotten gains – go to jail penniless? Have they checked behind the sofa?

But the case of Bernard Flanagan should not be considered a failure. Rather it is evidence of just how far prosecutors are now willing to go in the pursuit of the proceeds of crime.

That the 25-year-old would be hauled all the way back through court simply for his, admittedly pricey, Rolex and some small change is proof that the system is working.

Once upon a time, such people would be sitting pretty in prison, safe in the knowledge that they had ready access to their spoils on their release.

The authorities are to be praised for their hardline approach and dogged determination to track down every last penny.

They may have failed to recover what they believe Flanagan is due to society – for the time being at least – but already tens of millions of pounds seized from drug dealers and organised criminals have gone into funding work including arts and youth projects in Edinburgh and across Scotland.

This is the most tangible evidence of some good coming from their crime and everyone should support the effort. So while the idea that confiscating a watch and £142 from a drug dealer is pointless, it is in fact far from the case.

It is only by making an example of people like Flanagan that the message will get out. Commit a crime and you will pay.

Wild wonder

Their arrival is unlikely to provoke the same media storm as their Chinese cousins.

But the effort to bring three mistreated circus bears to West Lothian is almost as impressive.

The owners of the Five Sisters Zoo in West Calder – which, let’s remember, was only saved from closure less than three years ago following an appeal in the Evening News – have done an incredible job.

To raise the majority of the £80,000 needed to bring the bears to Scotland, especially as it was done in the shadow of panda-monium, is quite a feat.

The zoo’s owners now have a date for the bears’ arrival and need extra support to find the remaining funds.

We fully support them in their endeavours as they prepare for the big day and look forward to welcoming Suzy, Carmen and Peggy to their new home soon.