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Illegal drug supply largely unaffected by lockdown, Dundee expert says

Dave Barrie
Dave Barrie

The supply of illegal drugs in Dundee has continued unabated despite global lockdowns, an addiction expert says.

Dave Barrie, service manager at We Are With You, said heavily-used substances such as heroin, cocaine, and street Valium remain readily available.

It has been reported drug mules in the UK are taking bigger risks to ensure a continued flow of some of the world’s most addictive narcotics.

Larger than usual seizures have been reported across the country as gangs try to move bulk packages via significantly reduced routes.

Police in Tayside say the force continues to have success in disrupting suppliers and stressed its efforts remain focused, despite the pandemic.

Mr Barrie said the charity, formerly named Addaction, had expected some disruption but said: “That really doesn’t seem to have happened.

“There was some slight fluctuations in prices and availability. Cocaine was affected as availability decreased, the price went up. Heroin might have been a little bit cheaper too.

“Overall though, it looks like this has levelled out and we haven’t seen significant change.

“There has been no difference to street Valium availability at all.

“There is always the possibility of a delayed effect maybe three or four months down the line but we just don’t know.”

A reduced flight network, fewer vehicles on the roads, and travel restrictions on common entrance points such as the Eurotunnel, have seen big challenges for international and local drug transport.

Some have reportedly even disguised themselves as key workers to avoid detection.

It comes at a time when many people are at higher risk of suffering from mental health issues.

We Are With You has recently seen substance abusers struggling with the impact of Covid-19 come to them for help.

Some are self-medicating using Class A narcotics such as cocaine to help them cope with increased anxiety, feelings of depression, and financial woes.

Mr Barrie said the charity’s main role during the crisis is to make sure help is still available to those struggling.

He said: “We’re not really able to provide face-to-face support as much unfortunately.

“I know that a lot of people prefer to see someone and it can be tough.

“But we are doing online support and telephone support and the NHS is still there to help with treatment.

“We did fear the pressures of the current crisis, as well as greater difficulty in reaching people, could have made things worse.

“We haven’t seen a lot of change in terms of the numbers locally affected by addiction, thankfully.”

Chief superintendent Andrew Todd, Police Scotland’s divisional commander for Tayside, said the force’s commitment to tackling serious organised crime throughout the pandemic is “unwavering”.

He said: “The risk posed by criminals has not diminished and there is no doubt there are those who will use any opportunity to exploit a situation and the most vulnerable in our communities.

“Police Scotland continues to have success in disrupting the activities of these criminals and is working closely with our partners to pursue those who set out to cause harm and misery and to make Scotland a hostile environment for those involved.”

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