Boris Johnson blames rising Scottish drug deaths on SNP 'failures'

16 December 2020, 15:36

Drug deaths have reached an all time high in Scotland
Drug deaths have reached an all time high in Scotland. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

The rising number of drug deaths in Scotland are largely down to "failures" of the Scottish Government, Boris Johnson has said.

The Prime Minister told the Commons the SNP Government at Holyrood holds "the vast panoply of powers that are needed to tackle drugs and drugs crime", and increasing levels of drugs abuse in Scotland are "very largely down to them".

It comes as figures published on Tuesday showed 1,264 people died of drug misuse in Scotland last year.

It means Scotland has the highest drug death rate in Europe - a level three times higher than in England and Wales.

The 1,264 deaths recorded last year was a 6% increase on 2018 and represented the sixth year in a row that Scotland has seen a record number of deaths.

Boris Johnson told parliament SNP "failures" were the reason for the rise
Boris Johnson told parliament SNP "failures" were the reason for the rise. Picture: PA

Raising the matter in the Commons during Prime Minister's Questions, SNP MP Ronnie Cowan (Inverclyde) urged Mr Johnson to promote the use of drug consumption rooms, where illicit drugs can be used under the supervision of trained staff, in a bid to tackle the problem.

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Mr Cowan told MPs: "Previously the UK Government has held an ideological view that drug consumption rooms encourage drug taking.

"Will the Prime Minister engage with me and allow me the opportunity to help the Prime Minister do a good thing?"

Mr Johnson replied: "I must say that we don't want to do anything that would encourage the consumption of more drugs, nor do we want to decriminalise the possession of drugs - because I believe that they ruin lives and drive criminality across this whole United Kingdom.

"I am more than happy to look at the proposals he makes one more time and indeed to pursue the agenda of tackling drugs, but I may say that the majority of powers that are needed, the vast panoply of powers that are needed to tackle drugs and drugs crime, are already vested with the devolved administration in Scotland.

"I am afraid the failures that he talks about are very largely down to them."