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BBC Scotland's Leslie Anderson reports
"Drug misuse figures continue to get worse"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 23 February, 2000, 14:29 GMT
Drug abuse increasing

Glasgow mortuary
The number of users ending up in mortuaries is going up

The number of people misusing drugs and being killed by them in Scotland is still rising, according to government figures.

Statistics show increases in reported abuse of drugs, HIV infection and fatalities in 1998-99.

The figures were compiled by the Information and Statistics Division of the NHS's Common Services Agency in Scotland.

During the year, 63% of new visitors to drug services reported heroin as their main or secondary drug, compared to 59% in 1996-97.

Heroin involvement

More than 40% said they had injected in the previous month. The number of reports of HIV infection among injecting drug users increased exceeded 1,200.

The total number of drug-related deaths rose from 263 in 1997 to 276 in 1998. Heroin/morphine was involved in 41% of the deaths.

Junkie silhouette New users reported injecting heroin
The figures are released as the Scottish Executive prepares to announce the identity of the person chosen to head the new Drug Enforcement Agency.

The names of several senior police officers have been touted as likely successful candidates.

Deputy Justice Minister Angus MacKay said: "We are helping Drug Action Teams and service providers across the country to access the information they need to ensure services are responsive to need and are properly targeted.

Website launch

"Dissemination of this information will be faster and more widespread soon with the launch of a drug misuse website.

"We cannot escape the fact that drugs cause unnecessary and tragic pain and loss for drug users, families and communities."

"Our national strategy is about action across a wide range of services - prevention, care and treatment and enforcement.

The DEA will co-ordinate the intelligence gathering and operations of the Scottish Crime Squad, and the drugs squads of individual police forces. It will also work with London-based bodies.

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See also:
18 Feb 00 |  Scotland
New drug agency chief for Scotland
20 Jan 00 |  Scotland
More cash for drugs battle
26 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Cash plea in city drugs battle
27 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Action demand after boy's 'heroin' ordeal
27 Dec 99 |  Scotland
Campaigner urges new anti-drugs effort

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