Drug addiction deaths summit to take place in blighted city
A UK-wide summit on tackling problem drug use will be held in Glasgow next month, it has been announced.
Drug recovery experts, senior police officers and government ministers from all four UK nations will attend the event.
The number of drug-related deaths in Scotland is at record levels, higher than that reported for any other EU country.
Both the UK and Scottish governments have committed to addressing the issue.
The Scottish government wants drug policy powers handed to Holyrood so it can alter policy to treat the issue as a public health, and not judicial, matter.
And the UK government said prevention and recovery are as important as enforcing drugs laws.
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Kit Malthouse, the UK minister for crime and policing, will chair the summit on 27 February.
He said: “People are dying from drugs every day across the UK and this summit will bring us together to tackle the issue of drug misuse.
“We must have firm enforcement action and do all we can on prevention, recovery and treatment, too.”
Scottish government calls for a change in law to enable establishment of a safer drug consumption facilities have so far been rejected by the UK government.
Current drug laws, which are reserved to Westminster, prevent possession of Class A drugs within such a facility.
But the Scottish Conservatives’ public health spokeswoman, Annie Wells MSP, has said she is willing to consider the decriminalisation of drugs.
‘Public health emergency’
The number of drug-related deaths in Scotland soared to 1,187 in 2018, the highest rate since records began in 1996.
Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick, who called for an emergency meeting with his UK counterparts in July last year, revealed the summit announcement was made without any consultation with the Scottish government.
He said: “What Scotland faces in terms of drug deaths is nothing short of a public health emergency and we will engage constructively with any attempts to save lives.
“Regardless of how the UK government have chosen to go about this, what really matters is reducing harm and saving lives.
“That’s why listening to, and engaging with, people with lived experience of drug use and those on the front line must be central to any summit.”