14 January 2007

Skipper death raises drugs fears - BBC

Fears have been raised by politicians and campaigners about the high level of drug use in the Aberdeenshire fishing port town of Fraserburgh.

The concerns follow the death of former trawler captain Jackie Green, from a suspected drug overdose.

The 47-year-old become addicted to heroin after he lost his trawler and sold his fishing quota.

Campaigners claim that access to drug services and after-care programmes in the area is insufficient.

Mr Green was believed to have become addicted to heroin after earning more than £1m from the sale of his fishing vessel.

His family raised money to send him to the acclaimed Hope House addiction clinic in South Africa allowing him to kick his habit.

However after returning to the Aberdeenshire town, friends claim he fell back into drug use.

Alex Salmond, SNP leader and MP for Banff and Buchan, said that after-care services to support former addicts after they returned to the community following rehabilitation were badly needed.

"Although rehab facilities have improved in recent years, there still a real difficulty in that people come out of rehabilitation and basically the after-care, the support mechanisms after they come out, is not there to prevent them falling back into the same lifestyle as took them into rehabilitation in the first place," he added.

According to recent figures, police believe up to one in five adults in Fraserburgh may have drug problems.

Mr Salmond conceded that though the situation seemed to have improved in the last couple of years, problems in the town were still "very serious".

However Janice Jess, co-ordinator of Grampian Addiction Problems Service (Gaps), said that Fraserburgh should not be labelled as Scotland's "drug capital".

"Every community in Scotland from Caithness to the Borders has got drug problems in them," she added.

"What we [Fraserburgh] haven't got is a consistent and decent drug policy in order to handle those problems.

"It's totally missing its targets all the time so instead of having a resolution or even reduction to the problem what we're having right now is a growth in the problem."

Better services should be made available as a matter of priority, according to Ms Jess.

Stewart Stevenson, MSP for Banff and Buchan, claimed that the situation was slowly improving.

"One of the encouraging signs I think - particularly in Fraserburgh and repeated I believe elsewhere - is that we're seeing the next generation looking at brothers, sisters, uncles, parents and not going into drug abuse in the same way," he added.

"The lesson is beginning to be learned but the problem remains quite significant."

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