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Thursday, 20 January, 2000, 19:24 GMT
More cash for drugs battle

Anti-drugs video More money is going into anti-drug campaigns

Another 3m is being invested in the fight against drugs in Scotland.

The Scottish Executive has announced the extra money as part of a series of new attacks on the misuse of illegal substances.

Speaking during a parliamentary debate, Deputy Justice Minister Angus MacKay unveiled:

  • 2m to tackle drug misuse in communities
  • An extra 1m for Scotland Against Drugs
  • A Drugs Action Plan to allow people to hold the executive to account
  • A specialist effectiveness unit within the executive.

In Strathclyde alone, there were 148 drug-related deaths last year. The rising toll has prompted the creation of a Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency, which comes into operation this summer.

Drug Action Plan

Mr MacKay said: "Drug misuse does not recognise boundaries and equally we must move away from the culture of departmentalism and co-ordinate our prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and enforcement work.

Heroin bags Heroin is a major problem in Scotland
"I am leading that process by chairing the Cabinet Committee on Drug Misuse and we will soon publish a Drug Action Plan spelling out the full spectrum of our balanced drugs strategy.

"This will allow the public to hold us to account and judge us on how well we deliver."

The "effectiveness unit", manned by in-house staff and outside experts, would be "at the heart of the Scottish Executive", Mr MacKay said.

Talks with bank

Its work will involve checking that the money used to tackle drugs is spent effectively.

"Our communities and businesses must play a part in preventing drug misuse. Scotland Against Drugs has been very successful in involving them to date and I am therefore allocating an additional 1m to SAD to further this important work."

Junkie silhouette Addicts are in line for more help
Talks are ongoing with the Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland on its plans to provide 1.5m over three years for anti-drugs projects.

The Scottish National Party's justice spokeswoman Roseanna Cunningham called during the debate for "drug courts" to be considered in Scotland.

She cited other countries such as the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand which operate such "treatment-led" courts.

'Swift incarceration'

"They bridge the gap between punishment and treatment for the user - not the dealer it should be emphasised," she told MSPs.

"The discipline imposed on the offender is very challenging and failure to comply is likely to result in a return to the mainstream courts and swift incarceration thereafter."

She admitted such courts were expensive but pointed to the alternative cost of putting an offender behind bars.

"One figure I have seen is that for every pound spent on rehabilitation, three pounds are spent on imprisonment and even that excludes from the calculation the cost of drug related crime to the community at large," Ms Cunningham added
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See also:
17 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Experts warn of rise in drugs death toll
08 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Funeral of 'drugs death' teenager
03 Sep 99 |  Scotland
Drug misery milestone
03 Sep 99 |  Scotland
'Aspiring to win the drugs challenge'

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