Pubdate: Fri, 4 June 1999
Source: Scotsman (UK)
Copyright: The Scotsman Publications Ltd 1999
Author: Frank Urquhart


Call For Action By Townspeople In Scotland's 'Smack Capital' As Addict
Numbers Soar 

The explosion in heroin use in the town described as the "smack capital" of
Scotland is worse than previously feared, it was disclosed yesterday.

One in five men aged 21 who are registered with the main medical practice in
Fraserburgh are heroin addicts.

A conference on drug abuse in the fishing town was also told that one in
seven women of the same age is also hooked on the opiate.

Dr Sandy Wisley, the general practitioner who is at the forefront of the
treatment of the growing number of addicts in the town, said the number of
registered addicts attending his surgery had doubled since last year to 100
men and 30 women - 60 per cent of whom had links to the fishing industry.

He said that young men, born between 1974 and 1981, accounted for 80 per
cent of the number of heroin addicts registered at the practice. He warned
that there could be scores more young men who were using heroin who had not
reached the stage of seeking treatment for their addiction.

Dr Wisley told the conference at Buchan College, Fraserburgh, that it was
time for the public and the various drugs agencies to unite to rid the town
of the scourge of drug abuse.

He said: "We have to stand up and fight against drug abuse. The community of
Fraserburgh want to repel drugs. And if we don't stand up against drugs our
town may go down the tubes.

"We have seen the figures for the ones that are involved. What about our
next growth rate age group, the 14- to 17-year-olds? We have to build for
the future from the bottom up."

The conference had been organised by a breakaway fishermen's organisation,
the Fishermen's Association Ltd, as a direct response to the rising drug use
among fishing crews in the north-east.

Dr Wisley pointed out that the spiralling heroin problem had killed four
young men in the town this year - one quarter of the drugs-related death
toll for the Grampian Police area. The death rate, he said, was the
equivalent of 40 deaths in Aberdeen and 450 deaths in Strathclyde.

He said: "If these death rates had happened in Aberdeen or Glasgow there
would be a public outcry about it. We are losing our young people, and we
are losing them in the 17-to-30 age group."

Emphasising the scale of the problem facing the town, Dr Wisley produced a
table showing the age spread of registered drug addicts within his practice.

It showed that 14 out of 69 men, born in 1978 and registered with the
practice, were being treated for heroin addiction. Eleven out of 66, born in
1975, 11 out of 61 born in 1974, and 11 out of 75 born in 1973, were being
similarly treated.

The ratios were similar for female patients with seven out of 48 women, born
in 1978, being treated for heroin addiction, out of a total number of 30
female heroin addicts.

Dr Wisley also warned that the town was facing an even greater drugs danger
- - the appearance of crack cocaine in the community.

He said: "Crack cocaine, one of the worst drugs ever known to man, is here.
There was a crack cocaine case in Inver- allochy a week past Saturday. And
believe me, when crack cocaine enters a community, violence enters a community."

Earlier, Ralph Coton, an official with a fishing vessel insurer, the
Shipowners Protection, appealed to skippers to introduce drugs screening on
their vessels to rid the fleet of the dangers being posed by drug-taking

He said that cannabis and cocaine use were the norm elsewhere, but
Fraserburgh had a particular problem with heroin.

He added that drug pushers had identified the fishing industry as a
lucrative source of income and the only way to combat the problem was for
every vessel to have its own drugs policy, backed by drugs testing.

He said: "Working at sea in a fishing boat is dangerous enough as it is. We
don't have to make it worse."

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