Crime Briefing – South West Edinburgh Drug Supply Initiatives

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Below is a briefing on drug crime in South-West Edinburgh. 

At the last Locality Committee meeting (April 2018), Chief Inspector Carson reported that drug supply activity in the locality accounted for over half the drug activity in the city.

Concerns were raised that this was indicative of a disproportionately high drug misuse problem relative to the rest of Edinburgh.

This briefing provides context around the relatively high statistics, compared to elsewhere.

First and foremost, it is worth re-iterating that tackling drug and alcohol misuse is one of the 6 key outcomes of the Community Safety section of the Locality Improvement Plan (LIP). Whilst more detail is provided in the LIP, the local approach is based on enforcement and support, both of which are reliant on the ongoing and valued support of a significant number of the key partners identified.

The following sections provide a brief summary of the drug supply activity in South West Edinburgh, and the ongoing plans and initiatives to address those issues.


The Crime Statistics for 2017/18 indicate a significant proportion of Supply of Drugs offences occurring in South West Edinburgh.

Analysis conducted by the E Division Analyst Unit has identified 4 key themes in South West, relevant to the supply of drugs in the locality.

Residential properties, The Royal Mail Sorting Office and HMP Edinburgh account for the main locations for crimes of drug supply. This is indicative of the pro-active nature of drug enforcement activity.

In addition, the fourth aspect relates to on-street / open space drug supply. This is relatively low when compared to other localities in terms of the percentage of drugs supply offences that are on-street / open space (the lowest in fact compared to other localities).

While the South West locality accounts for the highest proportion of total drug supply crime for the city, it accounts for the lowest proportion in terms of possession in terms of other localities.

Cannabis is the drug most typically found in crimes of possession and supply, in South West Edinburgh, followed by heroin/diamorphine.


Private / Residential Locations
36.7% of drug supply (including possession with intent to supply) offences occur within private space. This relates predominantly to dwelling homes.

The response to this aspect is heavily reliant on information received from members of the public, which is invariably passed to police in the form of intelligence.

That intelligence is then used to crave and execute warrants at relevant addresses.

Response: There are both Divisional and Regional Units dedicated to targeting the supply of controlled drugs. Those units enforce Misuse of Drugs Act Warrants across the city, particularly when the enquiry might provide complex on account of, for example, ward / locality / Divisional boundaries.

Locally, the majority of drug enforcement activity is undertaken by the Initiative Team (LAVRU) based at Wester Hailes Police Station, supported by the Community Policing Team.

The focus is on those individuals / groups / families whose behaviour blights local communities. The recent phase of Operation Aftermath saw the execution of warrants in the locality, leading to the recovery of over £65,000 of controlled substances and £4,500 in cash.


Street Dealing
Drug supply offences occurring in public spaces account for 13.9% of supply / possession with intent charges in South West.

This is often the ‘end of the supply chain’, but is nevertheless often found in areas that experience associated crime and disorder.

Response: Operation Aftermath is designed to not only identify named individuals, but also problematic areas, where the identities of those responsible are often unknown.

The last phase of Aftermath targeted specific locations identified – directly and indirectly – by the public, using an array of tactics.

In addition, we recognise the significance the physical appearance and structure can have on the behaviour of individuals in communities. As such, we are supporting the regeneration of Westside Plaza with a view to tackling drug misuse and ASB there.

Environmental surveys will assess how the landscape can be adapted, lighting improved, CCTV, signage and generally making areas less welcoming for those who are intent on causing criminality, disorder or otherwise contributing to the fear of crime.

Officers will continue to receive briefings to empower them to stop and search individuals who have either (a) been identified through intelligence, or (b) behaved in such a manner in an identified hotspot.


HMP Saughton
The prison is accountable for 20.1% of drug supply / possession with intent to supply charges in South West.

Drug misuse within prisons is a significant challenge to authorities, but the relationship between E Division, and specifically South West, and prison staff is second to none.

Prison Liaison Officer PC Tracey Gunn continues to play a pivotal role in that relationship and makes a vital contribution to preventing and detecting illegal activity within the prison estate.

It is worth noting that the offence of bringing / attempting to bring drugs into prison is a separate offence and not included in the breakdown of figures outlined in this report.

However, as the locality with geographical ownership of the prison, we plan and undertake operations at the prison to prevent and detect persons trying to get drugs into prison. Similarly, we investigate reports from the prison of offences of this nature.

PC Gunn liaises with colleagues at prisons around the country to ensure we are abreast of trends and challenges within the prison.


Mail Centre
The Royal Mail Centre at Cultins Road is another entity of significance to recorded drug supply in South West.

Presently, the intended recipient is not relevant in terms of the location of the offence – the Mail Centre is recorded as the location.

As such, the Mail Centre accounts for 29.5% of recorded supply charges for the Locality.

This may skew what would be perceived to be a true picture of drug activity in South West and this particular recording standard is being reviewed by Scottish Crime Recording Standards. In future, the locus for such an offence may be recorded as the intended recipient.

Similar to the prison, joint working and partnership relations are strong and efficient. Staff at the centre are well versed in procedures, and technology is such that detections of attempts to get controlled substances into the city are on the increase (173%).

This area is an example of one in which we receive support from Divisional units in relation to investigation, and we continue to support staff at the centre in the detection of offences.


Prevention, Intervention & Support
Enforcement is clearly a reaction to the criminality discussed above, and the commitment to that aspect is evident.

However, we fully recognise the need to address the source of the problem also. That’s why we will work with partners to try and impact on demand, and prevent people choosing to misuse dugs. Equally, when they have, we will focus on supporting them get out of that lifestyle.

As such, the CAP will incorporate victim support for those afflicted by drug misuse. The work of the CAP is documented in this month’s Area Committee report.

In addition, events such as ‘The Slide’ have been introduced in schools, and the Choices for Life event involved inputs and engagement with over 60 youths in the area. These both show children how the decisions they make can affect their lives. Individuals with lived-life experience are highly credible and effective and are excellent at sharing their experience.


The content of this report is intended to break down drug supply – and associated challenges – into 4 main themes.

Whilst recent crime figures highlighted that South West Edinburgh accounted for the highest proportion of supply offences in the city, that is not to be interpreted as the locality having a disproportionate problem with drug misuse.

Two unique entities – HMP Edinburgh and the Royal Mail Centre – are situated in South West and contribute to recorded crime levels on that basis.

The locality enjoys a great deal of intelligence in relation to drug misuse and supply, and in a local Initiative Team ably supported by Community Policing and Divisional resources, are able to act on that intelligence.

The Locality Improvement Plan outlines the plan to tackle drug and alcohol misuse and, significantly, acknowledges the importance of support and intervention in addressing the problem.


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