Return to Arguments Index

Scottish National Party's Drugs Policy

Scottish National Party, November 1997

The Scottish National Party acknowledges that there is no one distinct drug problem and no one distinct solution. The SNP believes that Government has a clear responsibility to deliver clear, realistic and effective policy to deal with the drugs situation in Scotland. The SNP calls on the following measures to be put in place :

A. Strategy

  1. A National drugs strategy in Scotland is needed to direct policy and funding to the numerous, various groups/organisations and authorities working in this field. The problems encountered by a multi-agency approach should be addressed and clear communication lines put in place. If necessary rationalising and streamlining of drug support bodies should take place.

  2. A realistic, pragmatic approach to reducing demand for drugs should be adopted with accessible informed education and harm limitation forming part of this approach.

  3. Quality and regular on-going research should be carried out so that successes and failures of any particular initiatives in any part of the country can be monitored, lessons learned and importantly shared. Funding sources should be stabilised so that organisations can plan and continue to exist in the long-term.

  4. Poverty and the economic and social problems facing young people in particular must be dealt with. There is also a need to acknowledge the changes in youth culture which have occurred in recent years.

B. A listening approach

Youth forums of young people should be set up and consulted on a variety of issues in order that policy makers can keep in touch with the ever-changing drug scene.

C. Information and research

As the drugs scene is a constantly changing phenomenon, any framework needs to allow the rapid dissemination and collection of current information on drug use and abuse. An audit of drugs support facilities is necessary, specifically :

  1. Targets should be set as to the percentage of drug misusers that the Scottish Drug Misuse Database encompasses. Specifically, the database should be expanded to include information from needle exchanges and generic social work.

  2. The setting up and co-ordination by the Scottish Office of a Scotland-wide programme of research with security of funding.

  3. The collection and analysis of drugs-related morbidity on the Scottish Drug Misuse Database.

  4. The establishment of a mechanism by the Scottish Criminal Statistics Committee to record all drug-related crime.

  5. The recording of drug misuse by the social work authorities at the point of referral for social work services to ensure comprehensive and reliable information is collected.

D. Communication, education and information provision

  1. 'Social information' sessions in schools should become the responsibility of community health and community education services with a statutory responsibility on secondary schools to set aside time for these sessions. Teachers should have the responsibility for education on drug issues in primary schools.

  2. In each Drugs Action Team area teams of people who have direct experience of the drugs scene from a variety of backgrounds (eg social work departments, health services, voluntary organisations) should be seconded as part of their regular work to form a 'Drugs communication team' to work in schools, with parents and community groups to provide information about drugs. These groups would come under the direction of community health services.

E. Youth Culture

The SNP support initiatives to encourage Safer Dancing events and support guidelines for good practice at dance events.

F. Funding

There is a need to stabilise funding for those agencies dealing with drugs and to review the source and provision of funding to those working in the drugs field, specifically:

  1. The 'ring-fencing' of Community Care allocations to local authorities for residential services

  2. The costs of alternative forms of custody in residential units for offenders with drug problems should be borne out of criminal justice rather than health board or social work department funding.

  3. An assessment of health board drug service costs should be made and drug service funding should be made out of specific 'ring-fenced' allocation. Drug services should be seen as justifiable expenditure in their own right and not as part of public health funding.

  4. The Scottish Office should carry out an assessment to provide a full picture of local authority expenditure on drug misuse in Scotland.

G. Hard drug abuse

The following provisions should be made :

  1. a planned and clearly defined detoxification service with appropriate aftercare.

  2. adequate staffing at the crisis centres to provide professional advice round the clock.

  3. six to twelve month residential rehabilitation for prisoners.

  4. more crisis intervention centres.

H. GPs' role

There should be :

  1. a regular review by GPs of their long term prescribing of all drugs of potential abuse to individual patients.

  2. an extension of undergraduate medical training to cover training on drugs and more continuing education to cover drugs issues.

I. Family support

There should be support for families having to deal with a family member abusing drugs. Support must also be given to existing groups and help given to start family groups where none exist at present.

J. Drug rehabilitation in prisons

The following actions should be taken :

  1. the re-appraisal of mandatory drug testing in prison.

  2. tackling the problem of prisoners becoming addicts while in prison and the incidence of death through overdose by prisoners immediately on release.

  3. drug rehabilitation in prisons being developed as part of the general rehabilitation of prisoners to help prevent re-offending thus reducing crime and saving money in the criminal justice system budget.

K. The legal aspect

  1. The SNP supports the reclassification of drugs to provide a hierarchy of drugs which is credible to the audience with whom drug campaigns must engage in dialogue if behaviour is to be changed. It notes the recommendations made for reclassification made by the Scottish Affairs Report 1994 and Baroness Wooton's report.

  2. The SNP calls for a review to redefine use and reclassify drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Any redefinition should consider the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes and cultivation for own use. Reclassification should consider broadening the bands and possible classification in terms of chemical content or harm which can be caused.

L. Policing

  1. Customs jobs and services should be protected and coastline provision should be expanded to prevent drugs entering the country.

  2. The SNP support the current increased use of fiscal fines rather than custodial sentences for cannabis possession.

M. International drugs trade

A policy of international co-operation should be pursued to enable Scotland to play its part in reducing world demand for drugs with consequent effect on international crime, and the provision of alternative means for nations to develop stable economic and political systems other than drug based societies.