Scot Govt ditched drugs policy just as deaths fell for first time in 8 years

Holyrood’s decision to waive prosecution for people caught with hard drugs came just as suspected drug deaths fell for the first time in eight years, a police report has revealed.

Police Scotland figures show deaths thought to involve illegal drugs fell from 1,411 in 2020 to 1,295 in 2021 – a decrease of 8 per cent.

Last year, Scotland’s Lord Advocate announced that “simple possession” of dangerous drugs such as cocaine and heroin should no longer be treated as a serious criminal offence.

Hard drugs

According to the data, more than two thirds of deaths were of people aged between 35 and 54, and seven out of ten deaths were men.

Greater Glasgow Division reported over 25 per cent of the total number of suspected drug deaths for the year – almost three times as many as any other local division.

In September, Dorothy Bain QC told MSPs that previous guidelines allowing the police to issue a warning for possession of Class B and Class C drugs would now be extended to Class A drugs.

Her decision followed on the heels of a similar proposal made by the Scottish Government’s Drugs Deaths Taskforce in its report on drug law reform.


The Christian Institute’s Ciarán Kelly said: “It’s bewildering that the Scottish Government should lurch towards decriminalising the possession of lethal drugs just as we see drug-deaths fall for the first time in eight years.

“Police Scotland’s figures cry out for this wrong-headed approach to be abandoned if the nation is to shake off its reputation as Europe’s drug death capital.”

Also see:


Scots drug deaths reach new record high

MSPs approve new push for drug decriminalisation

Scots cocaine deaths quadruple in three years

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