Counter drugs team

Monday August 12th 2019

Midlothian Council

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

CALLS are being made for a drugs team to be set up to support vulnerable people in Midlothian after the number of drugs-related deaths more than doubled in a decade.

Councillors will be asked to support the move next week when they return for their first full meeting after their summer break.

A motion put forward by Conservative councillor Andrew Hardie, and seconded by Provost Peter Smaill, also calls on them to work with partner organisations to provide more anti-drugs advice in primary and secondary schools.

Mr Hardie calls for officers to investigate opportunities to fund a dedicated counter drugs team with £500,000 from the local authority’s housing revenues account.

The team would be for vulnerable residents living in social housing.

Putting forward his motion, Mr Hardie says:

“Despite the tough financial pressure that the council faces, it is clear that council needs to do more to take action on the devastating drugs crisis, which is especially harmful on some of our most vulnerable communities.”

Scottish Government statistics released last month identified Scotland as having the highest death rate from drug use in the European Union.

In Midlothian, the number of drug-related deaths last year was recorded at 14, compared to just six in 2008.

While all six deaths a decade ago were men, last year’s figures included four women.

Mr Hardie’s motion, which goes before full council at a meeting next Tuesday, calls on fellow councillors to recognise the “significant” drug problem in the county and ensure it remains a focus of police community action teams.

He calls on them to congratulate the teams on a reported £1million of drugs seizures over a 12-month reporting period.

If approved, a proposal for the new team will be brought back to the council in November for approval.

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