Scotland needs urgent action on overdose prevention centres

It is not often that an announcement from a Scottish Government appointee makes me cheer, but the news that the Lord Advocate has finally given the green light to proceed with Overdose Prevention Centres did just that.

The fight to tackle Scotland’s drug death crisis has been a long and often fractious one. Too often, it has been dragged into the constitutional quagmire that bogs so much progress down. Both of Scotland’s Governments have let the victims of this crisis and their families down too many times. Whether it was the Scottish Government’s decision to decimate rehab budgets or the stubborn refusal of the Tories to accept the evidence that mass criminalisation is failing the most vulnerable.

So, finally, we have a ray of light after the Lord Advocate has said that it is not in the public interest to prosecute these much-needed services. Quite why it has taken this long to arrive at that conclusion is anyone’s guess, but this is a welcome step nonetheless.

We now need to see urgent movement towards these centres. Last year, I was proud to bring a proposal to Edinburgh City Council to begin progressing a feasibility study for one such centre in Scotland’s capital. That study will come back next month, and we need to see the political will and funding to match the urgency of this crisis.

It cannot be right that Scotland’s fatality rate continues to outstrip most other wealthy nations. We have lost too many people due to the failure to act. Pausing again will only lead to more devastated communities, more broken families and yet more lives lost. We need to see action on this announcement now.

* Euan Davidson is Councillor for Corstorphine/Murrayfield in Edinburgh. He is the former PPC for Aberdeen North and East Lothian and a previous President of the Scottish Young Liberals.

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  • @ Euan Davidson, “It is not often that an announcement from a Scottish Government appointee makes me cheer……. ”

    By all means cheer, Euan, but do be careful. The Lord Advocate in Scotland who made this announcement is Dorothy Bain KC , a distinguished and very well respected Scottish lawyer who held public office long before there was ever an SNP Government at Holyrood. She was Advocate Depute in the Crown Office from 2002 to 2011 and has frequently asserted her independence.

  • I agree Euan. It’s good news, and we need to ensure action is taken.

    There’s been so much dragging of heels, and while the announcement is a step forward, we see far too many announcements that amount to little more than a press release, so we need to ensure there is associated action. I’m fed up with politicians whose expressions of sadness about this tragedy, are merely a convenient opener to blaming the other lot.

    Congratulations on pushing for a feasibility study and I hope you get the required support from those who have so far made excuses for inaction.

  • Catherine Royce 17th Sep '23 - 4:20pm

    This will be a problem for as long as addiction is seen as a criminal offence rather than a public health issue.
    There is ample evidence that the most effective way to prevent deaths from contaminated drugs is to decriminalise, legalise and regulate supply and use, we can learn from Portugal. Addiction rates do not fall, that is probably part of the human condition, but addiction can be managed safely with all the benefits that brings.

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