Police conclude ‘Operation Substance’ on Glasgow’s Style Mile

Credit: Bob Carner

Sam Doak

On 5 October Police Scotland announced the conclusion of Operation Substance, a targeted effort by Glasgow police to combat the open selling of illegal drugs in the city centre. The operation was carried out over four months and resulted in 166 individuals being referred to the procurator fiscal for prosecution. According to the police, a wide range of drugs including heroin and cocaine were found to have been openly sold in the centre prior to the conclusion of the operation.

The police claim Operation Substance came about in response to complaints from members of the public concerning the open selling of drugs in busy streets such as Buchanan Street and Royal Exchange Square. The operation was carried out with the use of plain clothed officers who were deployed initially to assess the scale and nature of the problem. They concluded that drug dealing was alarmingly widespread within the city centre and that the activity was carried out by unaffiliated dealers rather than by organised groups.

Detective Inspector Steven Elliot, the officer in charge of Operation Substance, commented recently on the police’s response to drug dealing in the city centre. Speaking to Glasgow Live, Elliot Said: “The beauty of how we ran that operation was we could watch them to see if they were going to places and we could see if they were collecting drugs from somewhere else. But there was nothing that clever about it.”

Elliot went on to assure the public that the police were committed to combating the sale of drugs in the city centre, saying: “We are listening to the public’s complaints and we will act on information we get on drug dealing. The public raised their suspicions with this to start with and they might not have seen us the last few months working on this operation. They will hopefully now notice the results.”

Last Friday, upon the conclusion of Operation Substance, the city centre was patrolled by approximately forty police officers, including mounted officers. This was intended both to emphasise the presence of the police in the city centre and to provide assurance to the public that the centre is adequately policed. According to the police, support has been offered to arrested individuals deemed to be suffering from drug dependency or related issues.

Regarding the plans to combat dealing in the city centre in the future, the police have stated that future operations will rely primarily on patrols carried out by uniformed officers. DI Elliot made the following statement regarding the police’s plans: “it is more uniformed officers that are going to tackle the problem…But if we need to bring this operation back again, we absolutely will.”


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