Nicola Sturgeon accused of failing to combat Scots drugs epidemic because of independence push

Nicola Sturgeon accused of failing to act fast enough on drugs epidemic because she is too busy chasing independence dream – as report reveals overdoses kill three Scots EVERY DAY

  • First Minister was criticised by a new report demanding a swathe of changes
  • The Drugs Deaths Taskforce spent three years investigating Scots drugs crisis
  • Made 20 recommendations and calls for 139 specific actions in report today
  • The report revealed that three Scots die every day from drug overdoses
  • Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said the deaths were a ‘national shame’ 

Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of failing to act fast enough to combat Scotland’s drugs crisis because she is focusing on independence instead.

The First Minister was criticised today by a new report that demanded a swathe of changes to the way narcotics are dealt with. 

The Drugs Deaths Taskforce made 20 recommendations and calls for 139 specific actions to be taken by the Scottish and UK Governments after three years of investigations.

The 135-page document praised Ms Sturgeon and her Government for some of its work but also criticised the slow pace, warning that ‘rhetoric needs to be backed up by action’.

The report revealed that three Scots die every day from drug overdoses. In 2020, there were 1,339 drug-related deaths in Scotland, a rate far above the rest of the UK and higher than any European country.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said the deaths were a ‘national shame’ and accused the SNP administration of being ‘distracted by pushing their independence obsession at every turn’.

 Ms Sturgeon is demanding a new referendum on independence in October next year, but Boris Johnson has refused to sanction it.

‘This watershed report makes it clear that can never happen again if we are to drastically reduce the tragic number of lives lost to drugs in Scotland,’ Mr Ross said.

‘That is why it is disgraceful that Nicola Sturgeon’s is pressing ahead with plans for another divisive independence referendum next year. 

‘That is time and resources that should be spent on tackling record levels of drugs deaths right now.’

The First Minister was criticised today by a new report that demanded a swathe of changes to the way narcotics are dealt with.

The First Minister was criticised today by a new report that demanded a swathe of changes to the way narcotics are dealt with.

The report revealed that three Scots die every day from drug overdoses.

The report revealed that three Scots die every day from drug overdoses.

Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross said the deaths were a 'national shame' and accused the SNP administration of being 'distracted by pushing their independence obsession at every turn'.

Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross said the deaths were a ‘national shame’ and accused the SNP administration of being ‘distracted by pushing their independence obsession at every turn’.

In the report, taskforce’s chairman David Strang, a former chief constable, makes 20 recommendations and calls for 139 specific actions to be taken by the Scottish and UK Governments as well as other organisations.

He wants the approach to drugs should move away from punishment towards care and a number of changes in the law are recommended, including legislation at a UK level for safe drug consumption rooms to go ahead.

Safe consumption facilities are not a ‘magic solution’ to addiction, he said, but could help guide people into treatment.

Work on the first consumption rooms should begin soon, Mr Strang said, calling for an action plan from the Scottish Government within six months.

Addressing the Scottish government’s work so far, the report added: ‘Many have drawn parallels between the current drug deaths crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic, which drew an unprecedented Government response. 

‘The First Minister and Minister for Drugs Policy have repeated that drug deaths represent Scotland’s other public health emergency. We support this level of response to what is a tragic and unacceptable loss of life. 

‘It is important, however, that these are not simply empty words. The rhetoric needs to be backed up by action. 

‘The Scottish Government should learn from international examples of public health emergencies to outline what a meaningful response to the drug-deaths crisis means in practice.’

Other recommended legal changes include tightening equalities law to remove ‘any discriminatory separation between drug dependency and other health conditions.’

The report says ‘significant cultural change’ is needed to reduce stigma and discrimination, calling for more action to change attitudes.

Mr Strang said the taskforce considered the issue of drug decriminalisation but felt it would be a ‘distraction’ from the main topics they wanted to cover.

He said: ‘I think what we feel is Scotland’s not ready for that yet.

‘It might be a journey that we go on but if you were to go down that road, there would need to be extensive consultation.’

‘Significant additional funding’ is needed to tackle drugs deaths on top of what the Scottish Government has already pledged, the report says.

Drugs Policy Minister Angela Constance said: ‘Many of the recommendations proposed in previous reports have already been implemented including measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and the expansion of the police naloxone pilot.

“Others, such as safer drug consumption facilities, drug-checking facilities, ending Friday liberations and Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) standards, are already being progressed.

“Of course, there are areas where we want to go far further and today’s recommendations will be central to delivering that. We have announced £1.1 million of new investment into public health surveillance projects to improve our real-time understanding of harms so we can improve our response.’

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