DDN October2021 October 2021 | Page 4


Scotland signals shift away from class A prosecutions

Scottish police will be able to issue warnings for possession of class A drugs , said Scotland ’ s lord advocate , Dorothy Bain QC , in a statement to the Scottish Parliament . Police are already able to issue warnings for class B and C drugs , but she is now is extending the recorded police warning guidelines to include all classes of drugs , meaning that people found in possession will not automatically face prosecution .

Neither offering or accepting the warnings is mandatory , she stressed , and emphasised that the scheme extends to possession only , with ‘ robust prosecutorial action ’ continuing for supply offences . Although the Scottish Conservatives labelled the move ‘ decriminalisation by stealth ’ and ‘ a dangerous decision that will benefit drug dealers ’, it has been welcomed by parts of the Scottish media , with the Daily Record calling it a ‘ massive step forward in drugs policy ’.
Bain told MSPs that she recognised ‘ the extent of the public health emergency we face in Scotland ’ and the ability of prosecutors to play their part in addressing the crisis . ‘ There is simply no one size fits all . Each case will be considered on its own facts and circumstances . The most appropriate response – the smartest response – in any drugs case , must be tailored to the facts and circumstances of both the alleged offence and the offender . Scotland ’ s police and prosecutors are using the powers available to them to both uphold the law and help tackle the drug death emergency .’
Meanwhile , provisional figures show a very slight fall in Scotland ’ s drug deaths . There were 722 suspected drug deaths in Scotland during the first six months of 2021 – nine fewer than during the same period last year . Almost 70 per cent of the deaths were of people aged 35-54 , and men accounted for 72
per cent of fatalities . The figures were released just two months after 2020 ’ s official statistics , which showed a record total of 1,339 deaths . The provisional figures show deaths that the police suspect involved illicit drugs , rather than the annual National Records of Scotland statistics that use data from death registration records and forensic pathologists . The Scottish Government has stated that it will now release provisional figures every quarter following criticism that 2019 ’ s figures were not released until the end of 2020 . ‘ Once again these figures are appalling ,’ said drugs policy Minister Angela Constance . ‘ More regular reporting of data on drug death trends in Scotland will ensure everyone involved in our national mission remains focussed on the work we must do to get more people into the treatment that is best suited for them as quickly as possible .’
Suspected drug deaths in Scotland : April to June 2021 at www . gov . scot
' There is simply no one size fits all . Each case will be considered on its own facts and circumstances .'

Service cuts putting young people at risk

WHO : Double alcohol taxes to save 5,000 lives cypnow . co . uk

CUTS TO YOUTH SERVICE FUNDING are leaving young people more vulnerable to exploitation by county lines gangs , according to a joint report from the National Youth Agency ( NYA ) and YMCA .
Services have been cut by almost three quarters since 2010 , says Time ’ s running out , with annual spending down by around £ 1bn . Young people need to be a priority for COVID recovery spending , the document stresses , with the pandemic having a huge impact as face-toface engagement was halted in many places .
‘ Too many children are not identified until exploitation is deeply ingrained in their lives ’, it says , with a policing response alone insufficient to tackle county lines . ‘ This dire situation is only set to get worse before it gets better , as a dramatically increased need for provision is met with further budget cuts locally ,’ said YMCA CEO Denise Hatton . Report at nya . org . uk
' This dire situation is only set to get worse before it gets better .'
DOUBLING THE EXCISE DUTIES on alcohol would prevent 5,000 alcohol-related cancer deaths a year in the WHO ’ s European Region , according to a new study . Around 10,700 alcohol-related cancer cases and 4,850 deaths would be prevented , WHO states , with the UK , Germany and Russia the main beneficiaries .
Modelling the impact of increased alcohol taxation on alcohol-attributable cancers in the WHO European Region sets out models for three different scenarios , with current excise duties increased by 20 per cent , 50 per cent or 100 per cent . A doubling of duties could potentially save 1,700 lives from colorectal cancer and 1,000 women ’ s lives from breast cancer , it says .
‘ In many of the countries of the WHO European Region current levels of taxation remain low ,’ said study author Dr Jürgen Rehm . ‘ That ’ s why WHO Europe recommends increasing taxes on alcoholic beverages as one of the best measures with potentially high impact .’
Study in Lancet Regional Health – Europe at www . thelancet . com / journals / lanepe / article / PIIS2666- 7762 ( 21 ) 00210-6 / fulltext