Pubdate: Fri, 6 Nov 1998
Source: Scotsman (UK)
Contact:  http://www.scotsman.com/
Copyright: The Scotsman Publications Ltd
Author: FRANK URQUHART and GRAEME STEWART

FRASERBURGH AT TOP OF HEROIN ABUSE LEAGUE

FRASERBURGH was yesterday crowned the heroin capital of Scotland according
to a new report compiled by Glasgow University researchers.

The study by the university's Centre for Drug Misuse says the town has more
opiate abusers than any other part of the country. The researchers estimate
that 2.5 per cent of the town's population, aged between 14 and 54, are
regularly abusing heroin and other opiates - the highest figure ever
recorded in Scotland.

The prevalence of opiate abuse for the north-east as a whole is estimated at
1.2 per cent with figures for Aberdeen alone estimated at 2 per cent.

But a local drugs worker claimed that as many as one in three young adults
in Fraserburgh may be dabbling with the highly-addictive Class A drug.

Grampian Health Board, which commissioned the report, said the reasons for
the phenomena have yet to be identified in a town where rich young fishermen
mix regularly with young adults from one of the most deprived housing
schemes in Scotland.

But drug agencies, based. in the area, have confirmed that the heroin abuse
can be traced to teenagers in the rave scene turning to heroin because it is
deliberately being sold cheap on the streets by dealers. They fear that the
town is also about to be flooded with crack cocaine.

Janice Jess, of the independent Grampian Addiction Problem Service, said:
"These figures justify everything that our agency has been saying for the
past four years but it gives me no satisfaction to be proved right. We have
been aware of the spiralling heroin problem for years and I believe that
even these figures do not reveal the true picture.

"From the number of cases in Fraserburgh we have had to deal with this year,
I would estimate that one in three youths in the town, aged between 15 and
21, are involved in heroin abuse."

She said the area has a restricted methadone programme and this area still
had no rehabilitation or detoxification centre.

Ms Jess said: "This is not just a problem affecting young fishermen with
lots of money in their pockets. Our kids moved quicker through the rave
scene than anywhere else in Scotland and then moved right into heroin. The
problem is right across the community, affecting the poor as well as the
rich. And I now have clients on heroin in Peterhead, Macduff, Turriff,
Rhynie, Buckie and Huntly."

The report estimates that the total number of opiate and benzodiazepine
{valium-like) drug misusers in the north-east is 3,626. There are 2,519 in
Aberdeen, 908 in Aberdeenshire and 199 in Moray.

A breakdown of the Aberdeenshire figures reveals an estimated 523 opiate
abusers in Banff and Buchan and 324 in Fraserburgh alone - 2.5 per cent of
the town's population, aged between 14 and 54.

Frank Hartnett the general manager of the health board, said the figures
were far worse than he had feared. But the report had provided the board,
for the first time, with hard evidence about the magnitude of the problem it
faces.

He said: "To have firm evidence clearly makes the problem of managing drug
misuse easier than if it was all based on experience and anecdote.

"This report confirms there is a very serious problem in Fraserburgh. But
what the research doesn't do is tell us why Fraserburgh and why not
Peterhead which is only 14 miles away."

Rhona Kemp, the chairman of the Aberdeenshire Drug Action team, said the
statistics were horrendous and frightening.

"It is ludicrous that we don't have a detox facility in this area. It also
ludicrous that last year of the total Scotland Against Drugs funding,
UKP50,000 went into Aberdeen and only UKP3,000 into the rural areas," said
Mrs Kemp.

Detective Superintendent Donnie Struthers, the former Grampian Police
divisional commander for Banff and Buchan, said the heroin problem in
Fraserburgh was showing every sign of spreading.

Meanwhile, in Strathclyde, two men have been found dead in their houses in
what police believe may be separate drug deaths, bringing the total in
Strathclyde this year to 83.

The body of Barry Adam, 22, was discovered early yesterday in his home in
Cumbernauld and on Monday the body of David Fleming, 34, of Balornock,
Glasgow was discovered in Springburn. Post-mortem examinations are due to be
carried out on both men.

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Checked-by: Don Beck