Wed 20 Jan, 2021

Scotland’s top law officer must use his public interest discretion to exempt staff overseeing lifesaving public health interventions from prosecution, the Scottish Greens have said.

The Scottish Government is expected to outline its plans to tackle Scotland’s drug deaths crisis in a statement to parliament this afternoon. Scottish Greens justice spokesperson John Finnie MSP has said that interventions such as safe drug consumption rooms must play a part in this response, but this can only happen if the Lord Advocate exempts them from prosecution.

John Finnie MSP said:

“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 is not an option.

“We know we cannot arrest our way out of the drug deaths crisis. When it comes to drugs, criminalisation has caused more harm than it can claim to have prevented. Addiction is better tackled by trained medical professionals than the strong arm of the law.

“The Lord Advocate has the power to act now. He must use his public interest discretion to ensure that no health professional would face prosecution for providing lifesaving health interventions.

“Establishing safe drug 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 saving lives. So, I urge the Lord Advocate to act now.”

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