DRUG dealers were given a wake-up call this week as police launched a major crackdown.
The early morning round- up of suspects saw 18 people arrested in three days of operations.
And senior officers from Central Scotland Police said all those targeted came after tip-offs from the public.
The force also reaffirmed its commitment to clean up the streets and urged people to help them in their war on the dealers in misery.
News of the clampdown was welcomed by communities across the district and one woman, who has vowed not to be forced out of her home by drug pedlars living nearby, said: “This is great to see. People have put up with a lot for a long time and will be happy that the police are doing something about it.”
Monday saw several properties in Stewart Road, Falkirk, searched and arrests made.
The following morning the Falkirk Council-run Castings Hostel in Castings Avenue was raided by officers from the drugs unit and several suspects arrested.
Then yesterday (Wednesday) the spotlight fell on Camelon and the Bog Road area of Falkirk.
Superintendent Robbie McGregor, Falkirk’s Area Commander, said: “This is our clear demonstration to our communities that we are listening and when there is evidence available, we will act.”
The 18 arrested, ranging from a 24-year-old woman to a 51-year-old man, included four females, three of them along with their partners.
Councillor David Alexander, who represents the Stewart Road and Castings areas, said news of the drugs busts would be welcomed by communities.
He said: “This gives out a clear message that peddling drugs will not be tolerated. Whether it is in a private property or a council-run facility, it is a concern that this is going on. However, operations such as this show it is not acceptable and that if people continue to give the police information they will act.”
The Area Commander added: “I continually hear first-hand from communities about the negative impact that drug dealers and drug abusers have on the quality of life of law-abiding people.
“Central Scotland Police has constantly said that it will respond to community concerns and this enforcement activity shows that it listens to concerns and responds to what they say.
“Drug dealers continually target people who lead chaotic lifestyles and exploit their vulnerability and they will continue to be tackled.”
Urging people to keep coming forward with information to help officers to develop a picture of who is involved and where the dealing is taking place, he vowed: “Then we will take action.”
One of those who knows the misery of living with dealers on the doorstep is Ann Swanston. When she moved into her Stewart Road home 10 years ago, she never imagined the situations she would face.
Ann said: “It’s not a pleasant experience to be approached for money by people out of their faces on drugs.
“We have a nursery and creche in this street and young mums taking and collecting their children have to walk past these people. It is very intimidating.
“There have been occasions when it’s got too much and I’ve thought about moving, but then the next day I realise that would be giving in. I’m determined these dealers are not going to chase me out of my home.”
She welcomed the police operation and said: “There are so many good people living in Stewart Road and nearby who want to see things improving.
“Hopefully, they will be encouraged by this operation and be ready to provide any information they may have to the police.”
Ann was involved in setting up the Stewart Road Area Action Group which was formed five years ago to help clean up the neighbourhood by tackling anti-social behaviour.
She said: “There was so much drug dealing going on that people were afraid to walk down the street.
‘‘We set up a problem solving partnership to look at improving safety. This included dealing with the dumping of rubbish and getting more back green lighting installed which also dealt with the problem of prostitutes taking their clients round the back of people’s homes.
“It’s taking a while and one of the problems is that we just begin getting the message across to some of the tenants living in the street when they move on and another group arrives bringing the same issues. But we’re not going to give up and people living in nearby streets are also encouraged by what we are doing.”
Encouraging the public to come forward with information, Detective Inspector Charlie Mitchell, of the force’s drugs and organised crime unit, said: “If you suspect somebody near you is dealing, then there will be a number of visitors to the address who only stay for short periods. Or the person who lives in the premises may constantly make short trips to meet people at nearby points.”
Anyone with information about suspected drug dealers can either call the Central Scotland force on 01786 456000 or anonymously contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.