Government pressed on drug deaths crisis summit
TOP Tory ministers in Westminster have been urged to travel to Glasgow this year to take part in a summit on Scotland’s drugs death crisis.
Home Secretary Priti Patel, along with Scottish Secretary Alister Jack and Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock, have been invited to show their “commitment to tackling the issue” by attending a crisis meeting in the city later this year.
In a letter sent yesterday morning, Scottish Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick asked the trio to confirm their attendance at the event, which currently has cross-party support north of the Border.
Shocking figures released by Police Scotland last week revealed 2019 is set to surpass 2018 in the number of drug deaths across Scotland.
Last year, statistics showed that a record
280 people had died in Glasgow and 1187 across Scotland.
However, the rate of deaths in Scotland through the first half of 2019 suggest
2018’s total could be topped, with a total of
1368 predicted if the problem persists, with more than 300 deaths in Glasgow.
This paper has repeatedly called on both governments and the council to come together in Glasgow for an emergency summit.
Now, FitzPatrick has called for the cabinet members to travel to Glasgow to help address the problem.
In his letter to the Home Secretary, he wrote: “We have been working with Glasgow drug and alcohol services for some time to organise a summit in Glasgow on this issue that I will be hosting.
“There is cross-party support in Scotland for this summit which will be attended by government representatives, local authorities and the chair of Scotland’s drug deaths taskforce, and which will ensure the voices of those with experience of using drugs, and their families, are also heard.
“I would like to invite you, Matt Hancock and Alister Jack to attend the summit to demonstrate our shared commitment to tackle this issue.
“I look forward to hearing from you on how we might engage immediately on this matter in order to make progress as well as confirmation that you will join me at the forthcoming drugs summit in Glasgow.”
The call comes days after Tory
MSP Annie Wells urged Boris Johnson to make the drug death crisis his number one priority in Scotland this year.
Following the letter, Wells, who is the Scottish Conservatives’ public health spokeswoman, said she is willing to consider the decriminalisation of drugs and the introduction of safe consumption rooms.
In his letter to the Home Secretary, Scotland’s Public Health Minister also pleaded for legal changes to be made to allow for radical proposals to be taken forward.
In response, the Home Office called the death numbers “extremely concerning”, but did not respond to questions on whether ministers would attend a summit.
A spokesperson added: “We will continue to work with the Scottish Government to tackle drug misuse and harm and sustain our support for programmes which reduce the health-related harms of drugs.”
The Scottish Government has urged Home Secretary Priti Patel to come to Glasgow