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First Minister Introduces New Drug Detection Dog

Issued: 6 Mar 2007

SCOTLAND'S FIRST MINISTER GIVES BACKING TO NEW DRUG DETECTION DOG FOR WESTERN ISLES

SCOTLAND'S First Minister Jack McConnell today backed the launch of a new drug detection dog which will be used to deter people from taking drugs to the Western Isles.

Thanks to substantial funding from the island's Scottish Executive funded Alcohol Drugs and Smoking Action Team (ADSAT) Northern Constabulary will gain not only a new drug dog but also a full time drugs officer/handler.

The group recognises the importance of such a tool in the fight against drugs across the Western Isles.

PC Neil MacDonald, currently based in Stornoway, will be the officer tasked with carrying out the challenging new role.

Following an eight-week training course at Glasgow Dog Training School, PC MacDonald and his dog will be fully operational later this year.

Today's launch was supported by the First Minister who is in Stornoway to attend the Convention of the Highlands and Islands.

Scotland's Justice Minister, Cathy Jamieson, visited the island in March 2005 to highlight the Force's partnership launch of drug detection dogs being used at all ferry terminals and airports in the Western Isles.

Commenting on the introduction of a new tool for Police in the fight against drugs the First Minister said: "I welcome this valuable addition to the fight against drugs in the Western Isles.

"Across Scotland, we have been taking concerted action to tackle the drugs menace in our communities.

"Our Police forces, together with the SCDEA (Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency), are making more arrests, intercepting more international gangs preying on Scotland and are seeking out and destroying more illegal drug factories."

He added: "Last year alone they seized drugs with a total street value of £22.4million.

"The dealers should be in doubt about that our law enforcement agencies will continue to track them down and ensure action is taken against them, using all the powers and resources at our disposal.

"In this case, clearly man's best friend has become the drug dealers worst enemy."

Police in the Western Isles believe the introduction of this new drug detection dog will underline the fact that bringing drugs to the Western Isles can have serious consequences.

A business case for the dog and the associated training implications was prepared and was submitted by the Area Commander, Chief Inspector Murdo Fraser, to ADSAT for approval.

ADSAT have confirmed they will make funding available for the next two years.

Donald A Macleod, Chairman of ADSAT Western Isles, said: "The ADSAT partnership is delighted to support this initiative. We feel that the arrival of the dog will mark a significant step forward in the fight against drugs in the Western Isles.

"We know from other areas that this type of intervention makes a difference. The ADSAT partners look forward to working closely with Northern Constabulary in a range of interventions that will help protect our communities."

The funding not only includes the dog's training but the PC's wages which will mean that when the dog is not being used in an operational capacity Neil will undertake duties such as educational visits to schools, drugs enforcement work, which is designed to disrupt the network of drug dealers operating in the Western Isles.

He is well qualified to carry out this work having served as an Area Drugs Officer (ADO) in Fort William and Wick.

PC MacDonald said: "The introduction of a drugs dog is a positive step in the fight against drug related crime, however, it is only with assistance and information from the local communities that we can maximise its potential."

Chief Inspector Murdo Fraser said: "Our message is that drugs are not welcome in the Western Isles and today's announcement only serves as a reminder to those involved in drug related activity.

"This new drug detection dog, coupled with the funding of another full time drugs officer, will allow us to concentrate on those who take part in this evil trade and help keep the Western Isles a safe place to live and work."

He added: "This complements the agreement we already have in place with Calmac, HIAL, Stornoway Port Authority, Royal Mail and the islands' hauliers who have all given their backing to the use of dogs on their premises and in their vehicles.

"We are grateful for the assistance provided by local MSP Alasdair Morrison and delighted that the First Minister has given up his time to support this initiative which will be of benefit to everyone in the Western Isles."

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