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Last Updated: Monday, 30 June, 2003, 17:45 GMT 18:45 UK
Drugs strategy is questioned
needle, drugs
Drug seizures rose sharply from last year
A hard-line strategy which saw 55m worth of drugs taken off Scotland's streets last year has been criticised for copying tough US enforcement measures.

In the last year alone there has been a five-fold increase in drug seizures overseen by the Scottish Drugs Enforcement Agency (SDEA).

Those figures were hailed by the agency's bosses and the Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson.

But a Glasgow academic, who has studied drug enforcement strategies, said the hard-line approach is not always the best one.

Iain McPhee, from Paisley University, said: "If you focus on an enforcement model emphasising criminalising drug use and drug using behaviour then the performance indicators like drug related deaths, drug related crime and patterns and prevalence of drug use tend to increase with such an enforcement model."

New figures

Despite the words of caution, the SDEA director Jim Orr said he was delighted with the seizure figures.

He said hard work, dedication and good intelligence had led to the largest haul of drugs since the agency was set up in June 2000.

The figures, published on Monday, form part of the organisation's annual report.

It shows that 226 people were arrested for drug trafficking and other forms of organised crime and 955.9 kg of class A drugs were seized.

The outstanding performance of the SDEA during the year is an indication of how effective the organisation has become at tackling serious and organised crime
Jim Orr

Mr Orr said: "Performance during the past 12 months represents a marked increase over previous years, particularly in terms of the number of arrests made, the weight of drugs seized and the identification of criminal assets for potential confiscation by the courts.

"The vast majority of targets set for 2002-03 were met and in some cases significantly exceeded.

"The outstanding performance of the SDEA during the year is an indication of how effective the organisation has become at tackling serious and organised crime.

"It also stands testament to the determination and commitment of all staff attached to the agency."

'Serious problem'

Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson was also pleased with the new figures.

She said: "Drugs misuse is one of the most serious problems facing Scotland. It destroys lives and it destroys communities.

"Tackling the problems of drug misuse requires concerted action on a number of fronts.

"Our drugs strategy covers prevention, education, treatment and care, and balances enforcement measures with action to reduce demand.

Cathy Jamieson
The justice minister is delighted with the figures
"Preventing drugs getting on to our streets in the first place stops the drug dealer menace in his tracks. That is why I am delighted to see the record seizures reported by the SDEA.

Ms Jamieson added: "Every gram taken from the dealer's grasp is one less gram causing misery in our communities."

The drugs seized over the past year had a street value of 44,627,205 and included a single consignment of 500kg of cocaine - the potential street value of which was 25m.

In addition, more than 2,088kg of Class B drugs were seized - an increase of 106% on the previous year - with a street value of more than 11m.

Andrew Brown, chairman of the Acpos standing committee of chief constables, said: "The impressive results achieved by the agency demonstrates the organisation's professionalism and commitment to providing the highest quality of service."


WATCH AND LISTEN
Cathy Jamieson on Good Morning Scotland
"You could imagine the kind of misery had these been distributed"


BBC Scotland's Bob Wylie
"Anti-drugs activists say there has been no marked reduction in drugs available"



SEE ALSO:
Drug deaths in Scotland soar
07 Aug 02  |  Scotland
Drugs gang given 58 years
06 Jun 03  |  Scotland
Strategy to cut drug abuse
04 Mar 03  |  Scotland
Drug court given thumbs up
11 Nov 02  |  Scotland


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