COMMUNITY police have been asked to increase patrols around the Commercial Road area of Leven.
Pedestrians and shopkeepers have been concerned about the conduct of some of those populating that section of the town centre and asked local officers, at last week’s Fife Constabulary community engagement meeting, to rope the area in to their regular street beat.
The meeting heard some shoppers and pedestrians occasionally felt intimidated by groups of people gathered near the shops, including the two nearby chemist outlets, and were uncomfortable about walking near them.
There were claims that some, who had possible substance abuse problems, were collecting prescriptions – but then trading their medication with each other.
Sometimes the ‘dealing’ was plainly going on outside the shops, it was claimed, or arguments were breaking out over allegations of money being owed.
Police were told it was more of a problem in the mornings, around 9.30am-10.30am, than perhaps they realised, and not always associated with the afternoons or evenings.
Some shoppers, particularly the elderly, felt uneasy about walking near the groups and occasionally went on to the road to pass by them, which could be dangerous.
Officers reminded the meeting that the people could be entitled to be there and often were committing no crime, while they could legally possess prescribed medication.
But police agreed to make the crowds aware of their presence and keep a lookout for any passing around of pills and tablets.
It was suspected there may be a connection with some of the service users accessing the Home4Good/Frontline Fife premises, just a few yards away from the shops in Commercial Road.
Billy Lynch, Frontline Fife general manager, said he appreciated people’s concerns about intimidating behaviour – or the perception of it.
However, he hoped people would not make a scapegoat of a particular service because of past history.
The service provision at Commercial Road had changed, he said – there was no longer a drop-in service, while a needle exchange scheme was being wound down and was unlikely to run after February.
While he understood there could be difficulties, Mr Lynch said it was possible some people were making a historical link with the days of the drop-in service, when more people with drug and drink problems were hanging around the premises.
Home4Good now concentrated on preventing homelessness through enhanced housing opportunities and dealt with people by appointment.
Drug problems may be a factor behind some people’s homelessness, said Mr Lynch, but it was not always the case.
He added he was willing to meet any time with anyone who wished to discuss their concerns.