United effort in purge on drug crime

Drug users who terrorise communities by funding their habit through violent crime and theft face a crackdown.

The partnership between Inverclyde and Renfrewshire councils and Strathclyde Police will see a six-strong team based at Erskine police station tasked with keeping an eye on users.

The team on the so-called Persistent Offenders Partnership will share intelligence about offenders and will closely monitor up to 100 known drug users a year.

Council chiefs say partnership staff will use “a mixture of voluntary and non-voluntary” approaches to get offenders into treatment, stabilise any existing treatment and cut the number of crimes they commit.

Councillor Eileen McCartin, convener of Renfrewshire Council’s community and family care policy board, said: “There are a range of factors which impact on drug addiction including unemployment, deprivation and homelessness.

“The new partnership will look at all of the reasons why particular individuals take drugs.

“This will have a massive impact on our community, cutting violent crime, reducing the fear of crime and making our streets safer.

“It’s estimated that drug misuse in Scotland costs £2.6billion every year. This type of project can save society £14 for every £1 spent so it offers clear benefits across the board.”

Chief Superintendent David Stewart, of Strathclyde Police’s K Division, said: “A small number of persistent offenders cause disproportionate harm to communities through their offending behaviour.

“In many cases, this behaviour is as a direct result of their misuse of alcohol and/or drugs and this partnership will help to address this.

“Police, working with colleagues from health and social work, sharing information and directly challenging offending behaviour, has worked in Glasgow and resulted in significant reduction in re-offending.

“The same approach can deliver significant results in Renfrewshire and Inverclyde”

The partnership also involves input from partners including the North Strathclyde Community Justice Agency, James Watt and Reid Kerr colleges and Strathclyde Fire and Rescue.