Tue 15 Dec, 2020

Responding to the newly published drug related death statistics, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie has accused both the Scottish and UK Governments of “a shameful failure of leadership”.

Figures just published by National Records of Scotland reveal that there were 1,264 drug related deaths in 2019, a record high, which Mr Harvie described as “heart-breaking”.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

“When the 2018 statistics were published, revealing a record 1,187 drug deaths, many thought that would be a wake-up call for government. Yet the 2019 figures are even worse, showing a heart-breaking 1,264 deaths.

 “1,264 lives have tragically ended because of a shameful failure of leadership. 1,264 families have lost a loved one because rather than take decisive action, our two governments continually pass the buck to one another.

“Scotland’s current approach to drug deaths has demonstrably failed. It fails families every day and if that approach isn’t changed it will continue to fail, with tragic consequences. Carrying on as we are now is intolerable.

“It’s clear that Scotland cannot arrest its way out of a drug deaths crisis. When it comes to drugs, criminalisation has caused more harm than it can claim to have prevented. If our governments are serious about saving lives then a public health approach must take precedence. Addiction is better tackled by trained medical professionals, than the strong arm of the law.

“Decriminalisation is obviously needed, but with a hard-right Home Secretary in a hard-right Tory government that obviously isn’t going to happen right now. So, we must explore alternative solutions.

“The Lord Advocate has the power to act now. He should use his public interest discretion to ensure that no health professionals would face prosecution for providing lifesaving health interventions. Establishing safe consumption facilities could play a significant role in reducing drug related deaths and other serious harms. There is nothing more obviously in the public interest than preventing loss of life. So, I urge the Lord Advocate to act now. The longer he delays, the more lives will be tragically lost.”

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