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Tuesday, 19 March, 2002, 16:46 GMT
'Just say no' approach dropped
Jim Wallace and computer user
Jim Wallace (right) announced a new approach
A new anti-drugs strategy has been launched in Scotland which is being seen as acceptance that the "just say no" tactic has failed.

The government now plans to produce high-quality information themed "Know the Score" about the effect of drugs so that people can make informed choices.

Despite the policy shift, the Scottish Executive insisted it was not going soft on drugs and that there was no intention of decriminalising cannabis.

Ministers admit that the "paternalistic" messages about the danger of drugs are not getting through.

Old practices like finger-wagging and sermonising on matters designed to scare young people away from drugs clearly have not worked

Alistair Ramsay
Scotland Against Drugs
Instead they will make available information which will spell out that particular drugs have different effects on individuals.

Politicians say they want parents, teachers and youth workers to be well armed with the facts when talking about drugs with young people.

Justice Minister Jim Wallace and his deputy Richard Simpson said Know The Score was "fundamentally different" to previous campaigns.

Mr Simpson said: "Locally available information and advice has been patchy and poor in quality in many cases and information has often been contradictory," he said.

Explicit information

"Local communications strategies will also help drugs services respond more quickly and effectively to local emergencies, such as the outbreak of botulism two years ago, caused by a contaminated batch of heroin.

"They will have much easier access to explicit information targeted at drug users which minimises the risks."

The Scottish National Party's drugs spokesman, Michael Matheson MSP, said it was a public relations exercise.

'Just say no' has failed
"The announcement by the justice minister is a clear admission that existing policies have failed," he declared.

The director of Scotland Against Drugs, Alistair Ramsay, said: "Old practices like finger-wagging and sermonising on matters designed to scare young people away from drugs clearly have not worked.

"A strong message, which says that drugs are dangerous, as an integral part of credible, reliable and accurate information should be accessible to young people who have developed the skills to make sound choices for their lifestyle."

On behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, James Orr, said: "Providing accurate and factual information on drugs is vital if we are to better inform young people, parents and carers alike.

Drugs cash

"Confused messages only exacerbate the problem."

The focus will be on education and prevention rather than on enforcement, with police resources concentrated on catching the dealers.

As part of this, dealers should find more of their assets being confiscated under the proposed Proceeds of Crime Bill.

The proceeds will then be used to treat, rehabilitate and support their victims.

It was announced earlier this month that a deal had been done which would allow half of the money seized from criminals in Scotland to remain north of the border.

Until now, all the money has been handed over to the UK Treasury in London.

Glenn Campbell reports
"Ministers admit the previous approach failed"
See also:

07 Mar 02 | Scotland
Drugs cash to stay in Scotland
03 Mar 02 | Scotland
Drug policy to be overhauled
10 Oct 01 | Scotland
12m boost for drugs agency
14 May 01 | Scotland
Forces unite in drugs goal
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