Dundee’s battle with drugs continues to have a huge impact on the city’s crime statistics, according to a new report by police.
The supply and use of drugs remains a “strong factor” in serious and violent crime, says Chief Superintendent Phil Davison, Police Scotland’s divisional commander for Tayside.
It comes following the announcement on Wednesday that possession of class A drugs such as heroin and cocaine in Scotland could be dealt with by a police warning rather than prosecution.
Dundee drug supply crimes up 44%
Drug supply offences in Dundee were up 44% for the period of April-June this year, compared with the same period in 2020, when the country was in its first lockdown.
Officers also say drugs and alcohol were a factor in more than a third of serious violent crimes recording during that period.
Ch Supt Davison said: “The link between the use of drugs and alcohol remains clear and until cultural change in approach to the use of disinhibiting substances occurs,
then violent crime will still be seen.
The abuse of alcohol and drugs remains a strong factor in driving crime.”
Ch Supt Davison
“Similarly to serious assaults, common assaults are sporadic in nature and the majority of these occur in private dwellings.
“It is clear that the abuse of alcohol and drugs remains a strong factor in driving the prevalence of this type of crime.”
Meanwhile, over the three-month period, 20 people were identified as vulnerable as a result of possible cuckooing.
That is where someone has their home taken over by an organised crime group for the purpose of using the premises, usually to deal or store drugs.
Although robberies decreased by 7.5% compared with last year, 78% of those crimes involved either drugs or alcohol on behalf of either the offender, the victim or both.
“The challenges associated with these offences have not changed, in that the majority of crimes are closely linked to drug supply and use,” said Ch Supt Davison.
“As well as targeting those involved in the supply of controlled drugs, we also look to deliver support to individuals who are victimised by those offenders.”
Police ‘supporting vulnerable drug users’
He added: “I believe an increase in supply charges, whilst seeing a slight reduction in possession cases, is indicative of our approach of supporting vulnerable drug users, whilst prioritising the criminal pursuit of dealers who seek to exploit those vulnerabilities.
“We remain focused and determined in the pursuit of those involved in the supply of drugs within the city.
“It is accepted that enforcement activity is only one part of the solution and we continue to work with key partners in tackling the broader social impact of drugs upon our communities.
“Significant challenges remain in mitigating the risks to the wider community associated with the drugs trade.”
Support can have ‘positive impact’ on crime figures
He said: “Drug use is such a massive issue and it is multi-faceted.
“People who are committing crimes are often people with substance misuse problems, and are committing these crimes towards other people with substance misuse problems – they’re in that same group, that same world.
“It’s good to see that these things are being reported and acted upon.”
He added: “There isn’t any simple solution to these problems, but I think what we are seeing is a lot more partnership working and trying to support people using as many agencies as possible.
“The more support that is out there for people with problems, and their families, hopefully we see that positive impact on these crime figures.
Childhood trauma a major factor
“I’ve worked in this area for many years now, but in the last few years I’ve seen a significant shift in Police Scotland making more of an effort to try and understand people’s back stories.
“There’s often a massive amount of trauma, a lot of people with substance misuse problems have significant childhood trauma.”
Simon Little, chairman of Dundee Alcohol and Drug Partnership, said: “The link between drug misuse and crime is well established.
“People using drugs and then going on to commit crime or committing crime to fund a habit is well known.
“The work of the alcohol and drug partnership, by addressing the issues of substance misuse in a public health approach is what is required.
“This means that hopefully, a recovery of people with substance misuse problems will mean a related drop in crimes related to drug and alcohol misuse.
“As we continue to make progress with treatment in the city, then hopefully it means these substance-related crime statistics will improve.”