Staff from a combination of Social Work, NHS, Housing, Community Safety and Police carried out engagement and house visits in both Inverurie and Peterhead during the multi-agency approach to tackling the issues associated with drug-related harm in our communities.
More than 150 vulnerable individuals were approached through the outreach, with 65 one-to-one discussions taking place and more than 30 receiving helpful information cards advising of the help and support available which is designed to keep them safer and reduce the risk of drug-related overdoses and deaths.
Two ASBO proceedings letters were also issued to people currently in custody within HMP Grampian.
Alison Wilson, Team Manager at Aberdeenshire Drug and Alcohol Service, said: “This is another welcome opportunity to bring our teams, which comprise Clinical and Social Work staff together with our partners, into a focused outreach-based operation to reach those who we know to be most at risk.
"Some individuals reach a point where they lose choice about what they can do to change their lives and are unable to take themselves out of the harmful situation. This is when outreach in this targeted form becomes the most effective way to reach individuals most at risk. At the same time, we are encouraging communities, through visibility and engagement, to contribute directly in the partnership response to the impact of serious organised crime on individuals and families who are our communities.”
Andy Martin, Community Safety Team Leader at Aberdeenshire Council, added: “Drug dealing is not just simply a criminal offence, it’s an issue that affects the quality of life in communities and is the source of considerable antisocial behaviour. Complaints such as numerous visitors attending at addresses at all times and drug use paraphernalia lying around are some of the issues reported to services. While the police investigate drug dealing as a criminal offence, the Community Safety Team in Aberdeenshire gather evidence of antisocial behaviour and proceed with measures at the civil court such as tenancy action and Antisocial Behaviour Orders.”
Another key aspect of the recent outreach work was the issuing of Wedinos testing packages and Naloxone overdose kits. Naloxone is as a lifesaving tool that can be given to someone experiencing an overdose of opiates. More information can be found at naloxone.org.uk/
Wedinos testing enables people to ‘test’ substances as often the drugs – sometimes bought online – are known to cause serious health implications as they are not of pharmaceutical grade, are often counterfeit and can contain different substances and dose ranges. Testing can be accessed via the wedinos webpage at www.wedinos.org/
Allison added: “When someone consumes substances they will not be aware of the dose, duration of effects or the effect it may cause when taken with other substances or medications. That places users at a far greater degree of risk of potential harm.
"We are particularly concerned with supplies of benzodiazepines also known as valium. Some benzodiazepines sold on the street are made of chemicals that are 20 times stronger than the prescribed equivalent and we encourage anyone to have benzodiazepines tested through Wedinos.”
Inspector Juliet Henderson from Police Scotland North East Division said: “The continued work by the partnership focuses around the need for effective intervention and outreach to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. We continue to tackle those exploiting vulnerable individuals as part of the Days of Action and recognise the public’s expectation for Police Scotland to take action against those who blight our communities with drugs.
"This collaborative approach is designed to achieve this whilst primarily focusing on providing sustainable and meaningful support to reduce the demand for drugs within our communities, making our communities less lucrative to those involved in serious and organised crime.”
The ‘Safer in Service’ Days of Action are based on a 4-tier approach:
Cross agency teams carry out doorstep visits to people believed to be at risk of drug-related harm. Social Work, Health, Housing Services and Police colleagues offer support and bring people ‘into service’
A partnership ‘health bus’ is stationed prominently in the town centre. Health and Social Work staff in the bus engage with people dropping in and encourage them ‘into service’
Community harm reduction
Community Safety Officers from Aberdeenshire Council proactively investigate and gather evidence of drug dealing related antisocial behaviour. This evidence is used for civil proceedings such as Antisocial Behaviour Orders
Criminal Justice enforcement against drug-dealing activity through Drug Search Warrants. Police execute the warrants and are supported by Health and Social work colleagues who engage with individuals once searches are complete
If you or anyone you know are affected by drug-related harm, support and assistance are available by calling 07584 217210 (ARIES, Aberdeenshire). If you are at risk or are being forced to sell controlled drugs, please call 101 or in an emergency call 999.