Drug dealers have been warned after shocking figures showed a spike in drug-related crime over the last year.

A report revealed by the Scottish Government’s justice analytical services show there were 1006 offences linked to drugs, compared with 656 in the previous 12 months.

West Dunbartonshire has the highest rate of offending – worse than Glasgow, Dundee and Inverclyde.

Last year, the Lennox Herald told how 20 people lost their lives as a result of taking drugs during the previous year.

At the time, drug rehab project manager Donnie McGilveray backed growing calls for Scotland to decriminalise drugs.

Donnie, who runs Dumbarton recovery project Alternatives, said bold action needed to be taken to tackle the country’s drugs shame.

Alternatives' manager Donnie McGillverary

Chief Inspector Scott Carlin, area commander for West Dunbartonshire, has now vowed to continue to target dealers in the area.

He said: “Our local policing priorities are identified by communities and drug-dealing and drug misuse have been highlighted as key issues for people in our area.

“We will continue to pro-actively target drug-dealers and other crimes associated with drug misuse. We recognise a strong partnership approach is required to stop the cycle of crime and harm caused by drugs.”

Politicians reacted to the figures which they label “shocking” and a “stark reminder” that deprived areas are worst hit by these kinds of crime.

The top cop, however, stressed the number of recorded drug-related crimes have fallen in West Dunbartonshire since the creation of Police Scotland in 2013.

The figures in 2012/13 showed there were 1202 offences of this kind but it reduced to 1090 the following year.

In 2014/15, there were 1203 drug-related crimes, 1110 in 2015/16 which then reduced to 840 the following year.

MP Martin Docherty-Hughes said: “These statistics are a stark reminder that it’s deprived communities are worst affected by drug-related harm.”

He also called for consideration to be given to change the law adding: “It’s a national issue though and these figures illustrate that current UK drug laws aren’t fit for purpose in dealing with the detrimental impact of drugs on our communities.

“We must continue to press the UK government on the need for fresh thinking on its drugs strategy.”

MSP Jackie Baillie said: “This 112 percent increase on last year’s numbers underlines the fact that Scotland is in the middle of a drugs crisis.

“I know the police are doing what they can to target drug crime, with the limited resource they have, but it’s not just about targeting the sellers of drugs, it’s about helping get people who use drugs off them as well.

“These figures show why we need a new strategy to deal with drugs in Scotland – one which brings police, politicians, charities, medical professionals and the public
together.”

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