Tue 16 Jul, 2019

John Finnie MSP

Highlands and Islands
Justice, Transport & Tourism, Rural & Island Communities

Website

It is shocking to see Scotland with the one of the worst drug death rates in the world.

From tackling heroin and the AIDS threat in the 1990s to minimum unit pricing on alcohol, Scotland has a track record in harm reduction, which prioritises the health and safety of our people over moral judgement.

It's needed now more than ever.

We have seen London take an interest in Scotland’s approach to knife crime. Hopefully now the UK Government will take notice of progressive thinking on drugs policy, but I have my doubts.

Drug harm is a national emergency. Sadly, the UK Government, who continue to hold all the legislative strings, appear to have little interest in Scotland’s public health crisis. Currently they are obsessed with Brexit and who will be the next prime minister.

What could Scotland do as an independent country though?

When it comes to drugs, criminalisation has caused more harm than it can claim to have prevented. The ‘war on drugs’ approach has self-evidently failed.

Addiction is better tackled by trained medical professionals, not with the strong arm of the law, and dangerous substances need to be taken out of the hands of gangsters.

Drug deaths in Scotland are now around three times that of the UK as a whole. Sadly, the stigma surrounding drug use as a criminal activity means there is not enough public outcry at these deaths.

I am proud that the Greens don’t care about looking tough. We must look at the evidence and save people’s lives, preventing harm and tackling addiction.

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Scottish Labour MSPs are set to vote against the wishes of their councillors this week as Holyrood debates the Transport Bill.

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The Workplace Parking Levy was introduced by Labour in England and Wales, successfully implemented by a Labour-controlled council in Nottingham and proposed in Labour’s council manifestos for Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Private prisons come at cost to public sector

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The Scottish Government must urgently review its private prison expenditure after the Chief Executive of the Scottish Prison Service confirmed that inflation uplifts built into these contracts result in cuts to the overall prison budget, according to the Scottish Greens Justice Spokesperson John Finnie MSP. Colin McConnell made the statement at Hoylrood’s Justice Committee this morning.

In written evidence provided to the committee, the Auditor General stated that the uplifts, “will require additional recurring savings of around £12 million a year by 2022-23.”