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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 May 2006, 12:05 GMT 13:05 UK
Heroin warning after deaths rise
Drugs - generic
Drug users have been warned about the purity of heroin
A warning to drug users about heroin quality has been issued by Scotland's largest police force after an increase in overdoses and deaths.

Since 1 January, there have been 82 drug-related deaths in the Strathclyde Police area, compared with 48 for the same period last year.

Police believe the increase is "connected to the purity of heroin currently being sold".

Analysis showed the strength is almost twice that of last year's heroin.

Detective Superintendent John McSporran said: "I would urge people who insist on taking illegal drugs to take the necessary precautions to make sure they are safe - such as making sure they are not alone when using heroin.

"Taking any type of illegal drugs is inherently dangerous.

"We would urge that they seek out advice from health professionals."

'Radical rethink'

A leading drugs worker said the rise called for a major rethink about the way drug users are treated.

Alistair Ramsay, former head of the national advice body Scotland Against Drugs and now campaigning independently, said: "The figure is very high.

"We could be looking at a dramatic jump in the way drug deaths are going.

"We need to look at what's been done up until now and have a radical rethink at how to access people who are using drugs.

"We need to review what help and support they are getting."

Purity and an increase of the amount of heroin in deals will only be part of the equation
Scottish Drugs Forum

Strathclyde Police has called a meeting to bring together social workers, health workers and alcohol and drug action teams.

A spokesperson for the policy and information agency Scottish Drugs Forum said: "The latest figure is of great concern but, in the absence of detailed information on each of the deaths, it is difficult to define any particular cause for this rise.

"For instance, purity and an increase of the amount of heroin in deals will only be part of the equation.

"International research also highlights other potential contributory factors such as poor overall health particularly those infected with the Hepatitis C virus as well as the age of the user and the length of time he or she has been a drug user. "

Watch reaction to Strathclyde's heroin warning

Police in heroin overdose warning
29 Mar 06 |  Scotland
Police focus on battling drug use
02 Mar 06 |  Scotland
Training targets drug death rate
13 Dec 05 |  Scotland
Call for early drugs intervention
28 Nov 05 |  Scotland
Deaths from drugs show increase
31 Aug 05 |  Scotland
Police discuss heroin supply fear
03 Mar 05 |  Scotland

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