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Swinney urged to back Tory drug bill to ‘save lives’

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Published Time: 15.05.2024 - 08:40:33 Modified Time: 15.05.2024 - 08:40:33

Douglas Ross takes aim at SNP ‘dither and delay’ over ‘national shame’ Colin Fisher/Alamy Live News John Swinney has been urged to back Tory legislation aimed at tackling Scotland’s “national shame” of being the drugs death capital of Europe

Douglas Ross takes aim at SNP ‘dither and delay’ over ‘national shame’

: Colin Fisher/Alamy Live News

John Swinney has been urged to back Tory legislation aimed at tackling Scotland’s “national shame” of being the drugs death capital of Europe.

Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservative leader, will table his Right to Addiction Recovery (Scotland) Bill, written with experts on the country’s drugs crisis, at Holyrood on Wednesday. 

The legislation would ensure that anyone who needs treatment for addiction is able to access appropriate support, including residential rehabilitation, and has received support from several recovery groups.

Mr Ross urged Mr Swinney, the new First Minister, to throw the weight of his government behind the Bill so it can become law as soon as possible.

He said that drug deaths are Scotland’s “national shame” and that those dealing with addiction do not want to see SNP ministers continuing “to dither and delay over taking the action needed to save lives”.

Scotland’s drug death rate has been 2.7 times the UK average and far higher than anywhere else in Europe, with Glasgow overtaking Dundee as the worst hotspot.

Before her sudden resignation last year, Nicola Sturgeon promised to make tackling the scourge her “national mission” and admitted her government took its “eye off the ball”.

After deaths hit a record high of 1,339 in 2020, they fell from early 2021 to late 2022. However, they have started to rise again and Police Scotland has estimated they increased by 10 per cent last year.

Unveiling his legislation, Mr Ross said: “This crisis is our national shame and our most vulnerable cannot continue to see those in charge fail to take the necessary and decisive action required to save lives.

“As this Bill launches, in the spirit of him saying he wants to work across the chamber, I urge John Swinney to throw his weight behind it so it can become law as soon as possible.”

: Ken Jack/Getty Images Europe

The Bill was developed in conjunction with Annemarie Ward, chief executive of Faces and Voices of Recovery, a UK charity which specialises in “representing the voices of communities affected by addiction”.

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