A top Tayside cop has said the lockdown restrictions have helped officers focus their efforts on cracking down on the city’s drug trade.
Chief Inspector David McIntosh was speaking after a week where police carried out seven raids across Dundee, and made 116 arrests in connection with drugs, violent offences and other arrests.
There have been a number of high-profile drugs busts in the past month, in spite of fears that criminals would be able to operate more freely due to police resources being tied up in the Covid-19 crisis.
And the area commander for Dundee has even said that restrictions have in some ways made their jobs easier.
“It’s actually made it more simple and allowed us to focus more, with fewer people out and about it’s allowed us to focus on these people more,” he said.
“The courts have also not been running in the same way, which means our officers aren’t spending time there giving evidence. We’ve also stopped non-essential training, so we do have more officers available.
“So our resources are pretty good, though there is extra demand in relation to coronavirus so it’s not business as usual as it was before.”
With many people losing their job because of the lockdown, more and more people are in an increasingly perilous financial situation.
And Ch Insp McIntosh said police were conscious that this could make them vulnerable and potential prey for the drugs trade.
He said: “Well you obviously have almost two pandemics, the virus itself and then there’s the economic challenges it presents.
“In regards to people turning to drugs or trying to make a quick buck we haven’t seen signs of that and, in some areas, crime has been down.
“There is obviously a well-known drugs issue in Dundee and coronavirus has not changed that. Our partner organisations are continuing to offer support in that respect.
“And we’re part of that too, not so much in terms of helping people who have fallen on hard times, but in terms of targeting the people who control the drugs trade in Dundee.
“Inevitably, those who deal drugs will prey on the vulnerable and that’s why we are continuing to crack down on them.”
Ch Insp McIntosh said that when the true scale of the pandemic first became apparent, officers were just as concerned as everyone else.
He said: “They’re just a part of the community as well, and they were just as wary of the dangers. But like all frontline workers they recognised they had a job to do.
“Police officers are used to dealing with new legislation and also with ensuring they have the correct equipment on them to carry out their jobs, so in that sense the PPE isn’t a major issue.
“Wherever possible we are trying to follow the social distancing guidelines but like other frontline workers there are times when coming into contact with people is unavoidable.”
And he praised local people for, on the whole, adhering to the distancing and lockdown advice from both the UK and Scottish governments.
“There’s obviously the enforcement powers we now have, but wherever possible we prefer to engage with people and explain to them the guidelines and then, only as a last resort, are we using them,” he added.