Value of drugs seized by police in the Scottish Borders hits nearly £1 million

Police in the Scottish Borders seized nearly £1m in drugs last year, according to new figures.

Thursday, 1st October 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 1st October 2020, 8:02 am

Scottish Borders Council launched the first community action team (CAT) in April 2018 as a collaboration between Scottish Borders Council and Police Scotland as a way to tackle anti-social behaviour and drug related crime in the Borders.

During 2018/19, the first CAT team issued 884 parking tickets, clocked up 335 hours of foot patrols, conducted 217 drug searches and carried out 101 static road checks on vehicles.

A second team was launched in September 2019, and the two teams cost the local authority £550,000 a year.

Now, at a meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s audit and scrutiny committee on Monday September 20, councillors were given an update on the performance of the two teams.

The report revealed that while in 2018/19 Borders police only confiscated £12,500 worth of illicit drugs, in 2019/20 they prevented £931,497 worth of narcotics from reaching the streets of the region’s towns.

The report reads: “The CAT have made significant inroads into addressing drug issues throughout the Scottish Borders and built on initial successes in 2018/19 with a number of significant drug seizures in 2019/20.

“The value of drugs seized is approaching one million pounds and the effective targeting of persons and premises has accounted for an increased percentage of successful searches.

“This is important as success reflects the quality of intelligence. Drug recoveries make a significant contribution to the removal of community risk and harm.”

The introduction of a second CAT team has also nearly doubled the amount of foot and vehicle patrols carried out in communities.

By comparison, in 2018/19 the single police team clocked up 335 foot patrol hours, and 589 vehicle patrol hours. In 2019/20, however, the figures were 585 and 1046, respectively.

The report states the extra manpower allows for greater visibility at the Scottish Borders’ seasonal events: “The cultural and sporting events held across the Scottish Borders provide an opportunity for the CAT to engage with local communities but also to take a proactive stance in relation to issues such as underage drinking and antisocial behaviour.

“For example at the Stowed Out Festival the CAT were engaging with festival attendees in the wider environs of the event that were away from the designated event area.

“They also intervened post event when large numbers of people were still present in the area to safely disperse festival goers.

“Opportunistic crime can also be prevalent at some events and the CAT have supported the local community police officers in enhancing visibility at these events.

“For example in Innerleithen cycle theft prevention was a major focus of the team but dealing with constituency complaints associated with large gatherings such as parking issues and misuse of footpaths by cyclists was also addressed.”