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BBC Scotland's James Cook reports
"The report reveals a dark underbelly to the communities of Port Glasgow, Greenock and Gourock"
 real 56k

Tom Keenan, Inverclyde Council
"We are making improvements - this is a long term thing"
 real 28k

Monday, 8 January, 2001, 12:19 GMT
Area tops drugs league table
Poverty stricken housing
Inverclyde is blighted by drugs says the survey
Inverclyde has been named as Scotland's new drug capital with a worrying number of heroin users.

Figures released on Monday suggested that the area has the highest proportion of heroin users in the country.

Each addict has been found to spend around 420 per week on the drug.

The Inverclyde Forum About Drugs, which commissioned the survey, has called for more resources to tackle the problem.

The study revealed:

  • Heroin is the primary drug for 80% of drug users

  • 20% of those people attending drug treatment and counselling services are under 19

  • 27% of users say they share needles, leading to a high incidence of hepatitis B

  • Each addict spends around 420-a-week on drugs, amounting to around 12.2m annually

  • The cash is raised mainly through petty crime, prostitution, and small scale dealing

  • It also questions accepted wisdom by revealing only 3% of the area's drug users smoke cannabis.

The council area, which includes Greenock, Gourock and Port Glasgow, has nearly five people in every 1000 registered as drug addicts.

At least 560 people in the area are known to be heroin addicts. Glasgow ranks second with four people in every 1000.

'Shocking scale'

But the Deputy Justice Minister, Iain Gray, said the findings would help the Scottish Executive to identify where resources should be focused.

Visiting Inverclyde on Monday, Mr Gray said: "The Inverclyde Drugs Forum research is a clear snap shot showing the shocking scale of heroin misuse in the community.

"Drugs and the drug-related crime which feeds habits can touch all our lives. But to some extent the size of the problem has always been hidden.

"This research helps put that right and we're now doing similar work across Scotland."

He said the Scottish Executive would listen to ideas from the people of Inverclyde about how anti-drugs funding should be spent.

Heroin
Heroin is said to be the most popular drug
The executive is currently conducting a study to uncover the true extent of drug problems in Scotland. The findings are expected to be published in July.

Inverclyde Council's director of social work, Tom Keenan, said: "The figures paint a grim picture, but the report is very welcome, it sets out the problems and the opportunities and how things have been improved - this is a long term thing."

He added: "We now have a substance abuse forum, we have implemented changes in the way we provide the services, we are beginning to hack away at the problem."

Duncan McNeil, Labour MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde, said: "We didn't develop a drug problem in 12 months so I don't see that it would be fanciable to suggest we could dissolve that situation in 12 months.

"But the positive aspect of this report we must go through and we must use this report to ensure that our drug services reduce drugs deaths, drug related crime and make this community safer for people to live in."

'No resources'

The research was conducted by Inverclyde Forum About Drugs (IFAD) using a range of figures from official sources like Strathclyde Police, the NHS, the government and the Scottish Prison Service.

Eleanor Robertson of IFAD told the Sunday Herald newspaper: "This area has absolutely no resources.

"The executive, the council, the police and the health board have ignored our plight for years.

"If they fail to respond to these findings they are sending a clear message to the people of Inverclyde that they just don't matter."

Inverclyde Council said that, while the figures were disappointing, it was doing all it can to tackle the problem.

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See also:

30 Dec 00 | Scotland
Police in drugs raids
26 Dec 00 | Scotland
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