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06/02/14 12:01

Crackdown on dangerous new drugs.

New summit to take place.

A new summit is to be held to discuss ways to crack down on Scotland’s sale and supply of new psychoactive substances, commonly known as ‘legal highs.’

Minister for Community Safety Roseanna Cunningham announced the plans during a debate on new psychoactive substances (NPS) at the Scottish Parliament. It is the first time that the Parliament has debated the issue.

She also announced that new information and advice materials on NPS will be produced for the Scottish Government’s national drugs information and advice service, Know the Score, to help raise public awareness about the dangers of these substances. New research about their use in Scotland will also be commissioned to help improve understanding of the use and impact of NPS in Scotland.

In 2012 there were 47 drug deaths in Scotland where NPS was found to be present, 32 where it was implicated in the death and five incidents where it was the only substance taken.

The summit, which follows a workshop held on the issue last year, will focus on enforcement, exploring in more depth legislative options available to tackle NPS. It will form part of the Scottish Government’s response to the UK Government’s review into legislative options to tackle NPS, as well as taking stock of the powers available to Scotland.

Last year’s workshop brought together representatives from the police, health and young people’s organisations to discuss how these substances are being sold and used in Scotland. Since then, a range of activity has taken place, including:

  • Making NPS a priority for Alcohol and Drug Partnerships which will continue in 2014/15
  • Working with Police Scotland to identify best practice and enforcement options within current legislation
  • Providing outreach support through the charity CREW at events including festivals like T In The Park to raise awareness of the health impact of NPS.
  • Commissioning Crew and the Scottish Drugs Forum to provide training and information to drug and young people’s services and Alcohol and Drug Partnerships across Scotland, to help build their capacity to respond.
  • Updating our data collection tools so that they provide more information about the prevalence, use and impact of NPS in Scotland.
  • Educating young people about the dangers of NPS through our Know the Score service and commissioning education resources as part of Police Scotland’s Choices for Life programme

Ms Cunningham said: “Referring to NPS as ‘legal highs’ implies they are safe. Whether a substance is controlled or not, it is impossible to know a drug’s content and the dangers it may pose.

“At a time when drug use across Scotland is falling, these new and emerging substances, which are easily produced and readily available, present a fresh challenge. This not unique to Scotland, but is increasingly a global drugs market.

“While banning these substances is a matter for Westminster, we are determined, as part of our ‘Road to Recovery’ strategy, to do everything within our power to restrict access to these drugs while educating people about the dangers of using them.

“Working with our partners, we have already made sure these new drugs are a priority for Scotland’s Drug and Alcohol Partnerships, drug charities, police and health authorities.

“This next phase will enable us and our partners to focus all our efforts on the challenges ahead and what we can do to minimise the impact of NPS.”