Detectives work daily to trip up the nine criminal gangs operating in the north-east – and meet monthly to think up new ways of disrupting them.
A senior officer has given an insight into how serious organised crime groups operate in the region as a report on the subject is to be presented to councillors today.
The analysis said 120 gangs operate in Scotland and Detective Superintendent Alex Dowall said roughly 8% of those – around nine – have a presence in the north-east.
He said: “They are predominantly involved in drugs – I would say about 90%.
“Those drugs are mainly cocaine and heroin, but we see trends and just now counterfeit tablets – Xanax and valium – are more common.
“The other groups may be involved in anything from tobacco, alcohol, computer crime, counterfeit clothing and stolen goods. There is a common misconception that it only involves drugs – they will cover anything to make money.”
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Police use the four Ds to target gangs – divert, deter, disrupt, detect. Diversion involves dissuading people from becoming criminals or buying from them.
Det Supt Dowall said: “If people buy illicit cigarettes or illicit alcohol or even use illegal Sky boxes – all of those stem from an originator, so by the time it gets distilled to a local level and someone is selling it in Aberdeen, it’s not really seen as organised crime – but it scales up and there is an impact.”
The north-east’s organised crime unit use a range of tactics to disrupt gangs and meet monthly with housing bosses, trading standards chiefs and others to think of ways of making their lives difficult.
Det Supt Dowall said: “We will undertake any activity that will disrupt a group. For example, if we find someone hasn’t disclosed driving convictions, we can get their licence taken off them.
“We can get interim disqualifications or their motor insurance cancelled.
“If we see they are using their house to deal drugs or illicit items, we can see about removing tenancies. This disrupts them but doesn’t resolve it. Our objective is always to secure the evidence to put them before a court.”
The report said each gang is given a score, indicating “the risk of threat and harm” it poses to the community.
The north-east specialist crime team can use covert tactics to monitor their activities and their actions are discussed at monthly serious and organised crime governance group meetings.
Describing the meetings, Det Supt Dowall said: “We have a range of people there, all who can add a piece to the jigsaw that will identify the best way we can tackle that group.
“An officer will look at the complete picture of that group and identify which of the four Ds will make an affect on the cohesiveness of that group.
“It might mean removing their car, executing a drug warrant or something else, we’ll do it.”
He added: “Every day within this division we work with three local councils and any number of partners to disrupt these groups.
“We’ll listen to the communities, find out where the problem is and identify what is the best resource to reduce the risk posed by the group.”
The report is to be presented to the public protection committee.