'The message is simple. If you or your family are involved in substance misuse, this is an opportunity to change your life'

Published: 10 Oct 2012 08:300 comments

CHILDREN are being targeted in the latest phase of an ongoing campaign to tackle drug crime in the region.

Police have vowed to visit every school in the Borders to warn youngsters of the dangers of substance abuse following the success of Operation Goal - and urge them to shop their parents.

A total of 54 people have been charged under the Misuse of Drugs Act following a two month campaign targeting the dealers, with seven of them already serving custodial sentences.

Detective Chief Inspector Amanda McGrath, who is leading the operation, said: "Operation Goal is a long-term project to not only minimise, but eradicate the scourge of drugs within Scottish Borders communities.

"More than 50 people have been brought to justice so far and whenever we receive more information about others involved in drug crime, we will take swift and robust action against them."

Dr Eric Baijal, Director of Public Health for NHS Borders and Scottish Borders Council, added: "The message is simple. If you or your family are involved in substance misuse, this is an opportunity to change your life."

Earlier this summer, police uncovered a quantity of illegal drugs after raiding a number of addresses in Galashiels, Melrose, Selkirk, Hawick and Kelso over a six-week period.

More than 100 officers, both uniformed and plain clothed, from across the Lothian and Borders Police force area, were involved in the operation - one of the biggest in the Borders.

The multi-agency initiative, which also included NHS Borders and Scottish Borders Council, also offered support to families currently dealing with an addiction.

Detective Chief Inspector McGrath, said: "It is essential that we educate and deter the public from substance abuse as early as possible and we will carry out various engagement activities with schools and other groups to achieve this.

"Our partners at NHS Borders and Scottish Borders Council play a pivotal role in this new phase of Operation Goal and the support and guidance they can provide to our communities will further assist the ongoing efforts to eliminate the devastating impact of drugs."

Scottish Borders Council welcomed the latest phase of the operation. Council Leader David Parker said: "By engaging with local communities and providing the necessary assistance and information to them, we can prevent people from going down this dark path, while also supporting those already affected by drug and substance issues.

"Education is clearly a key part of tackling the problem and I'm especially pleased that police officers will be visiting all of our schools to interact directly with the children."

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