More than half of Edinburgh’s drugs supply and production crime during the last 12 months took place in the south west of the city, according to the police chief responsible for that quarter.
Chief Inspector Alan Carson gave an overview of crime from the last financial year to the city council’s South West Locality Committee.
The South West Locality Committee covers the following wards: Sighthill/Gorgie, Pentland Hills, Collington/Fairmilehead and Fountainbridge.
The official ratified crime statistics are not due to be released until the end of May, but Chief Inspector Carson highlighted drugs crime and petty theft as being on the rise in the south west quarter of the city.
Addressing councillors, Chief Inspector Carson said: “In the south west of Edinburgh, we are responsible for over 50 per cent of the drug activity in the city of Edinburgh.
“The crime - drugs supply, drugs production and drugs cultivation, in the south west of Edinburgh is worth more than half of the total in the city - that’s almost doubled in the last year.”
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He added: “That drug enforcement activity has had an impact on the minor violence and the inquisitive petty crime.
“Theft from motorvehicles, theft from shoplifting, theft of peddle cycles are up significantly. We’re probably dealing with an extra 700 crimes on the inquisitive crime front.”
Chief Inspector Carson said that police action had led to a “fairly significant and staggering upturn in drug enforcement activity” and believed the area was no worse for drugs than other parts of the city.
“I wouldn’t say that we have a bigger problem with drugs in south west Edinburgh,” he added. “We have a very fertile intelligence picture in relation to drugs misuse. A lot of that is to do with the information we receive from councillors and constituents so we’re in a position where we are able to undertake more enforcement activity.
“I can understand that maybe there’s an interpretation that suggests that the south west has a bigger drug problem than other localities - I’m not for a minute suggesting that’s the case. We’ve just been in a position to really focus on enforcement activity in responding to intelligence.”
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Over the last two months, officers in the south west of the city have made 32 arrests relating to drugs, anti-social behaviour and dishonesties. Police have made 20 recoveries of drugs, totalling a value of £1,200.
Operation Screening during December and January saw targeted action and awareness of drugs crime and anti-social behaviour.
Chief inspector Carson added: “There will be a real drive to maintain the war on drugs and our approach to drugs from an enforcement point of view next year.
“We need to match that with support form the lower level dealers and the drug users to help them break out of that cycle.”
Cllr Denis Dixon, chairman of the South West Locality Committee, said drugs operations had been “very effective” but there remained “some unsavoury characters” in his ward.
He added: “Gorgie and Dalry certainly has a high incidence of drug usage and drug dealing going on.
“For me, it’s prevention really and putting these kind of operations into motion that’s important.”