More than 2,100 people have been charged with drug offences in the north-east in the past year as police continue to tackle the sale and supply of illegal substances.
Numerous significant recoveries were made thanks to intelligence-led activity including £1million-worth of ecstasy from a flat in the Rosemount area of Aberdeen and £105,000 worth of amphetamine and heroin from a property in rural Finzean.
There have also been significant seizures from vehicles travelling through the region including £52,000 worth of cocaine and heroin on the A96 near Inverurie earlier this year.
Police revealed today 7.2kg of cocaine was recovered, 13.7kg of heroin and more than 100kg of cannabis and cannabis resin, while £207,000 in cash was also seized connected to drug crimes.
Over the past year a number of successful initiatives have also been launched in the north-east including Operation Corner, a multi-agency approach in Fraserburgh and Peterhead to disrupt Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) which were operating in the area and targeting vulnerable people within their own homes, known as ‘cuckooing’.
Tackling ‘cuckooing’ has been ongoing in north Aberdeenshire since September 2017 and to date more than 100 individuals have been identified as victims with many receiving support through partner agencies to break the cycle of substance misuse.
The force also revealed that a pilot scheme has been launched in Aberdeen to replicate this successful process and officers are currently working with partner agencies to identify vulnerable victims in communities who are being exploited.
Detective Chief Inspector Lorna Ferguson said: “Tackling drug misuse is not just about the Police putting doors in and executing warrants – whilst this is an important part of disrupting the supply, we must also address the wider issues that bring about drug abuse in the first place and it is crucial we work with our partners to provide the ‘wrap around’ support to those who need and want it.
“During Operation Corner we focused on the activities of those involved in serious and organised crime at all levels, particularly those who were travelling to the North East to exploit vulnerable people living in Peterhead and Fraserburgh for their own financial gain. ‘Cuckooing’ or ‘county lines’ may not be new concepts but we were hearing from both communities that illegal drug activity was affecting their quality of life and increased activity was required to tackle this unwanted behaviour.
“As a result of this action we identified a number of people as victims of cuckooing with many of them requesting a referral to substance misuse services. Many people who refused help before were also able to re-engage with the system, with others identified who were not known to us or our partners before. Thanks to the success of the work ongoing in north Aberdeenshire and through Operation Corner, a multi-agency pilot scheme is currently being implemented in Aberdeen starting in the Seaton and Tillydrone areas to provide similar support.
“Initiatives like this are intelligence-led which allows us to target the right resources to the right places at the right times. In the past year a total of 2,114 people were charged in connection with drug crimes and we can only do this with support from the public. I therefore continue to urge anyone who has information about the supply of drugs to contact the Police on 101 or via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.”
Aberdeen City Council Co-Leader and Community Planning Aberdeen chairwoman Councillor Jenny Laing said: “Aberdeen City Council recognises the impact that drug dealing can have in communities, and where residents are being exploited by organised crime groups for ‘cuckooing’, we are committed to working with our partners to deal with this robustly. We will ensure that vulnerable individuals and communities get the support they need to increase their safety.”
Fraser Hoggan, chief executive officer at Alcohol & Drugs Action, added: “Alcohol & Drugs Action exists to reduce the harms faced by people with problematic drug or alcohol use; to help them become stable and to recover. Many of the people we support have complex physical or mental needs, making them vulnerable to those who seek to exploit their situation.
“Cuckooing is exploitation and harmful, on a number of fronts, to those targeted by these organised criminals. We owe it to our clients to spread awareness of this problem here in the north east of Scotland, to encourage them to pass on information they may be aware of to the authorities and support the efforts of the police and other organisations to tackle the problem at its core.”