THE Borders top policeman has defended the value of one of the biggest anti-drugs operation seen in the region.
Operation Goal arrested 23 people in five Borders towns over two days last week, with class A drugs cocaine and heroin seized.
Further inquiries led to two more arrests on Friday when cocaine and amphetamine with a street value of £2,400 was recovered.
However, the operations were criticised by a section of TheSouthern’s online readership, who believe it will have little effect on ridding the region of drugs or helping addicts.
And they also questioned the cost of using 100 men and women, which included officers from Edinburgh and the Lothians, in the drug-dealing clampdown.
But local area commander, Superintendent Andrew Allan, told TheSouthern: “One or two comments in the press have suggested our action will not change very much about the underlying issues of addiction. That is exactly why the Alcohol and Drug Partnership (run alongside NHS Borders and Scottish Borders Council) has also been involved, both in the planning and delivery of this operation.
“We routinely work with these partners to try and steer people towards support services they may need and this is a significant part of the current operation.
“The support services in the Borders are good and I would encourage people using drugs to take this opportunity to get the help that is available. Operation Goal has not finished.”
A total of 11 addresses in Galashiels, Hawick, Kelso and Selkirk were targeted on the first day of Operation Goal on Wednesday. Thirty street deals of heroin, along with valium, a cannabis cultivation and personal amounts of the Class B drug, were seized.
Thursday saw a further 10 properties in the same towns, as well as Melrose, also raided, with £1,000 worth of cocaine discovered.
Detective chief inspector Amanda McGrath paid tribute to the information provided by the public which assisted Operation Goal.
She added: “Following this up with further activity will send out a clear message to others involved in the supply of illegal drugs, that the police continue a zero tolerance approach to drug dealing in the Scottish Borders.
“I would also like to reaffirm that the success of this operation is directly attributed to the excellent collaborative working between Lothian and Borders Police, Scottish Borders Council and NHS Borders in tackling drug related crime at a local level.
“It is anticipated that such an approach will ensure ongoing and appropriate support is afforded to those affected by substance misuse in our area.”
The Conservatives’ SBC leader, Michelle Ballantyne, who previously worked as a youth drug support worker at Galashiels-based face2face Borders, says a multi-agency approach must continue.
She told us: “Drug dealers have no place in our communities and care nothing for the welfare of our young people.
“Intelligence is vital and you can make a positive difference by passing on things you see or hear.
“I have spent the last eight years working with young people whose lives are affected by drugs and I can assure you that only with a partnership approach will we really change things and that means every one of us taking responsibility for what goes on in our communities.”
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