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Police / Police confirm two drug deaths in just one week

POLICE have insisted that they are not losing the battle against the illegal drugs trade after two men died of overdoses in Shetland earlier this month.

Chief inspector Stuart Clemenson confirmed the “tragic deaths” following enquiries from Shetland News on Friday.

They are two separate incidents within a seven day period earlier in August, and are not linked, the area commander said.

The confirmation comes just days after the latest figures for drug deaths show that Scotland continues to have by far the highest number of drug misuse deaths in Europe despite a 21 per cent fall to 1,051 fatalities in 2022.

There were three drug misuse deaths recorded in Shetland last year.

Clemenson said police in the isles were doing all they can to prevent controlled drugs entering the street.

He said that “as a result of one of these tragic fatalities, police were able to identify the dealer who had supplied the drugs” and a warrant was executed earlier this week during which a “sizeable amount of cash and drugs were seized”.

This comes in addition to three separate seizures of controlled drugs last week, worth around £45,000, that had been sent to addresses in Shetland through the post.

Some of the drugs seized were disguised in children’s toys.

Shetland area commander chief inspector Stuart Clemenson: ‘We do everything we can to take as many drugs off the street as we can.’
Photo: Shetland News

The chief inspector added that since he became the area commander for Shetland in January last year almost three quarters of a million pounds worth of illegal drugs had been seized.

So, despite these sizeable seizures are police fighting a losing battle here?

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“Not at all,” Clemenson responded, describing the complex task at hand as a “continuing battle”.

“That’s the best way to put it. We are doing everything we are possibly can; it’s a multi-agency, multi-faceted response.

“The Dogs Against Drugs charity recovers the vast majority of the drugs on our behalf. We are actively working in the background to take the information that the public let us know about (…) and this turns itself into intelligence.

“We can only be at so many places at so many times and we need the public to help us as much as they possibly can.

“The more reports we get the stronger the intelligence becomes to allow us to go to the procurator fiscal and the sheriff court to ask for a warrant.

“We do everything we can to take as many drugs off the street as we can.”

He described the high number of drug deaths in Scotland as “hugely concerning” and added that the events from earlier this month demonstrated that Shetland was not immune to these tragedies.

Clemenson said the intelligence police was receiving with regards to the strength of the drugs currently on the market was “mixed”.

“Some are saying the drugs coming in are really strong, three/four times as strong [as before], others are saying the drugs are really weak at the moment,” he said.

“Drug users don’t know what they are getting, and that’s the risk they are taking. You don’t know what you are buying.”

Anyone who has information or concerns about the sale and supply of drugs in the local community is urged to contact Police Scotland via 101.

Alternatively, information can also be reported anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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