Police are being urged to crank up the battle against drug abuse, amid a claim heroin and cocaine are far too easily available in Hawick.
Councillor Watson McAteer, an ex-head of criminal investigation with the former Lothian and Borders force, is also calling on police to introduce a drugs education scheme in the town.
His comments follow last Friday’s Operation Gatekeeper drugs raids in Boonraw Road and Borthwick Road which resulted in police seizing cannabis and ecstasy worth £1,400. They also made five arrests.
Mr McAteer said: “While the abuse of illegal drugs and substances continues to be a problem in Hawick, it is encouraging to see Police Scotland pro-actively tackle the dealers and users by adopting an intelligence-led approach.
“I am, however, concerned that the level of dangerous and highly-addictive class one drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, are finding themselves onto our streets far too easily.”
Councillor McAteer said he could recall the suffering and hardships caused to families blighted by heroin abuse and it was worrying that we were seeing increased supply and apparent demand in Hawick.
He added: “This type of drugs abuse also brings with it many associated problems and it is likely that acquisitive crimes, such as thefts and housebreakings in our area, will increase as those afflicted try to source funds to feed habits.
“Police Scotland need to step up the fight to tackle all aspects of drugs abuse in our area and I hope that includes a strong programme of education within the community.
“Councillor Stuart Marshall and I have arranged to meet Chief Inspector Andy McLean, the local police commander, to understand just what is planned to tackle this problem.
Councillor Marshall added: “The recent raids in our town by Police Scotland have to be welcomed and clearly demonstrate that the police are absolutely committed to taking drugs out of our community.
“I can only hope that there are more of these types of exercises and soon as it worries me greatly that last week’s initiative may well only have struck the tip of the iceberg.”
Chief Inspector McLean said the ongoing Operation Gatekeeper was dedicated to disrupting the drug trade across the Borders using local and specialist resources.
He continued: “We know that prevention is just as important as enforcement, and our school liaison officers continue to educate our youngsters on the dangers of drugs abuse as part of their remit.
“With the help of our communities, we will continue to ensure that the Borders remains a safe place to live and work.
“If you have any information or concerns about drug crime in your area, please get in touch via 101 or make an anonymous report through the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”