New project aims to help tackle east Fife’s drug problem

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A new East Neuk project could help tackle an increasing drug problem in north east Fife.

Anstruther resident and community councillor Susan Gay is aiming to secure £5000 from a participatory budgeting exercise currently running in the East Neuk to launch the Our Space project.

The scheme will offer a safe space to people with addiction or mental health issues, referring them to other services.

Susan explained: “Struggling with drug addiction is tough in the East Neuk because we have fewer services than urban centres like Glenrothes or Kirkcaldy. Public transport is sparse and expensive so accessing services in towns outwith the Neuk is difficult.”

Recent Police Scotland figures showed the number of detections for drugs supply, drugs productions and drugs cultivation in north east Fife, which includes the East Neuk, rose from three between April 2017-March 2018, to 20 between April 2018-March 2019 – a huge 566.7 per cent increase.

Cllr Linda Holt, who is supporting Ms Gay’s initiative, said: “Our Space is a community response to a community problem. While the police have an important role to play, we are not going to be able to police our way of the problems created by drugs.

“Every addict is someone’s child and someone’s neighbour. Addiction is a mental health problem and is best treated as such.”

Cllr Holt said that since she became a councillor for the first time in 2017, residents and community councils have raised concrns about the drugs issue in the East Neuk.

“A cluster of drug deaths here, which are usually seen in areas of multiple deprivation, also created anxiety about the problem,” she added.

“The Housing and Safer Communities departments at Fife Council and the community police have stepped up their game and responded to the communities’ concerns with an increased presence, multi-agency engagement and new interventions.

“The rise in prosecutions is very welcome, and it reflects both better police performance and a rise in illegal drug activity.

“Illegal drugs are more easily and cheaply available, both online and on the street, than ever before, and no community is immune.”