Com­mis­sion aims to bring drug deaths in the city down to zero

Evening Telegraph (Late Extra Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - BY ADAM HILL

A TEAM of spe­cial­ists is aim­ing to bring drug deaths in Dundee down to zero.

The Dundee Drug Mis­use Com­mis­sion, a col­lec­tive of ex­perts from var­i­ous fields put to­gether in re­sponse to the in­creas­ing num­ber of drug-re­lated deaths in the city, also hopes to set an ex­am­ple to the rest of the country.

The group held its in­au­gu­ral meet­ing yes­ter­day just weeks after it was revealed that 72 peo­ple lost their lives to sus­pected drug deaths in Dundee in the last 12 months — the high­est re­ported fig­ure in liv­ing mem­ory.

Thought to be the first fo­rum of its kind na­tion­ally, it will see “com­mis­sion­ers” from lo­cal and na­tional agen­cies come to­gether to tackle the is­sue.

Peo­ple util­is­ing drug ser­vices, those with a his­tory of drug prob­lems and fam­ily mem­bers who have been af­fected will be asked to give ev­i­dence along­side con­tri­bu­tions from agen­cies and part­ners.

So far, 40 peo­ple have re­sponded to the call for ev­i­dence.

Speak­ing after what was de­scribed as a “re­ally pos­i­tive” meet­ing, Councillor Ken Lynn, chair­man of Dundee’s Health and So­cial Care Part­ner­ship, said the group was aim­ing to bet­ter the lives of those “at the bot­tom of pile”.

He said: “I am hop­ing to see some progress in re­duc­ing drug deaths and mak­ing sure there are bet­ter out­comes for peo­ple.

‘‘The idea would be to make a dif­fer­ence for ev­ery­one, es­pe­cially those who are at the bot­tom of the pile – drug users who are liv­ing in de­pri­va­tion and dic­ing with death.

“I would like to think we can bring drug deaths in the city down to zero. That is the tar­get, not five or 10.”

The group has been tasked with pre­sent­ing find­ings to the Dundee Part­ner­ship within a year.

How­ever, Mr Lynn pledged that any find­ings which could pay im­me­di­ate div­i­dends would be rolled out as soon as pos­si­ble.

Chair­man Robert Peat said the most im­por­tant aim of the com­mis­sion is to “iden­tify ways that the drug-re­lated death rate in the city can be re­duced and to save lives”.

He added: “It is a hor­ri­ble sit­u­a­tion and we don’t want to see that con­tin­u­ing.

“There are drug prob­lems ev­ery­where but in Dundee we are see­ing a par­tic­u­lar age group – not just young drug users.

‘‘We are also see­ing peo­ple in their middle years fall vic­tim to drug

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