WE HAVE been focusing locally on Operation Juneau. This initiative aims to tackle the harm caused within communities by substance misuse in a multi-agency way.

This operation has been very successful so far. We have recovered over £30,000 worth of drugs and referred 44 people to our partners in health or substance misuse support services. This is a really important part of the operation and I am very encouraged by the number of people willing to seek support and take this opportunity to improve their lives.

Substance misuse is a complicated issue and there is no single solution. The effects have far-reaching consequences, not just for the individual but for their family and friends and the wider community. This is why it’s so important that different agencies can and do work together and is why we work so closely with our partners in health, as well as the local authority and third sector.

Our ultimate aim is to use our collective skills and resources to offer people a better way in life and improve the wellbeing of our communities.

Addictions are often a secondary result or symptom of another life problem. Negative stereotypes and attitudes can prevent those who want to better their lives from seeking help. This is seen every day and we still have some distance to go in terms of challenging how people perceive addictions.

In East Lothian, I chair the Community Justice Partnership. A central part of this group is effective rehabilitation but also early intervention to prevent people from going down a bad path.

The partnership is made up of people in key positions across a variety of sectors who are talented and passionate about making a difference. We believe in an evidence-based approach to prevent reoffending, repair lives and improve our communities to make East Lothian a safer place to live.

Evidence suggests that a prison sentence is not the best way to tackle substance misuse. Supporting people and giving them the best opportunities to succeed is, instead, vital. That is why, from the outset of Operation Juneau, I spoke about success being about rehabilitation and supporting people. It is about educating and raising awareness of the complexities of addiction across our communities.

Success was never going to be measured solely by the amount of drugs seized.

I encourage you to have a look at the Community Justice Scotland website and, in particular, secondchancers.tv, which has some excellent material and is a really helpful tool to help understand the challenges we all face.

A new East Lothian taskforce is being created to tackle substance misuse and I am looking forward to working closely with key leaders across the county to address this issue head-on.

Operation Juneau will continue over the weeks and months ahead and we will keep you updated on our collective progress over our social media channels.