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Politics / SNP MSP Roddick backs calls for more Dogs Against Drugs funding

Emma Roddick MSP (second from left) with handler Hannah Anderson (left), Megan Grant (second from right) and project manager Michael Coutts. Photo: supplied

HIGHLANDS and Islands SNP MSP Emma Roddick has backed calls for greater funding for local charity Dogs Against Drugs.

The politician – who was recently appointed as minister for equalities, migration and refugees – has written to the Scottish Government’s justice secretary on the matter after visiting the Dogs Against Drugs team whilst in Shetland.

It comes after Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross also spent time with Dogs Against Drugs – and similarly showed support for increased funding – whilst in Shetland.

The charity, which was set up in 2002 by the people in Shetland in an effort to safeguard communities from illegal drugs being smuggled into the islands, has come up against issues with funding criteria which Roddick claims fail to recognise the island-specific way Dogs Against Drugs operates in.

It is understood that it costs the charity around £150,000 a year to run, and while it receives some funding from government – in addition to donations – it has not increased in line with costs. It does not receive direct funding from Police Scotland.

Roddick said: “The work Dogs Against Drugs carry out here in the Shetland is vital in helping to prevent harmful substances from entering communities.

“Funding bodies need to recognise that, while detecting and deterring drugs at airports and ferry terminals may have less success in most mainland communities where there are lots of alternative routes in, Dogs Against Drugs does incredible work in preventing drugs from getting to the isles in the first place.

“It was also great to hear about all the work they’ve been doing in the community to educate folk of all ages on harmful drug use and the devastating impact it can have on people and their families. With community welfare at their core, the charity is encouraging people here in Shetland to engage in discussion and debate, which is so important.

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“I am so grateful to the team at Dogs Against Drugs for taking the time to speak to me and of course the dogs – that are now a lot bigger than they were on my last visit in 2021 – for showing me the work they do. I have written to the new cabinet secretary for justice and I hope that we can see some movement soon on gaining deserved financial support for the team.”

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