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Scottish Government holds drugs summit day before UK version

Both events will discuss Scotland's drugs crisis in Glasgow later this month.

Drugs: Summit to be held in Glasgow.
Drugs: Summit to be held in Glasgow.

A Scottish drugs summit will be held the day before a similar UK Government event, the Scottish Government has announced.

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said the UK conference would not address the problems facing Scotland.

Both summits are due to take place at the Scottish Events Campus in Glasgow – on February 26 and 27 respectively.

FitzPatrick said the UK Government event would not hear from those with experiences of drug misuse, despite calls from Holyrood for the summit to be extended.

The Scottish Government previously accused Westminster of setting up the summit without consultation – leading to the minister saying he was “surprised” when the event was announced.

Last summer, statistics were released showing 1187 people in Scotland died from drug-related deaths.

Chaired by crime minister Kit Malthouse, the UK Government event will bring together politicians, health professionals and senior police officers from across the UK.

Co-hosted by the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council, the earlier summit will inform contributions of the Scottish delegation the following day.

FitzPatrick said: “What Scotland faces in terms of drug deaths is nothing short of a public health emergency.

“The UK event, while welcome, simply does not have the voices of people with lived experience in Scotland at its heart.”

The Scottish Government has appealed to the UK Government for the devolution of drug powers to Holyrood, in a bid to better tackle the problem, however Westminster has refused their requests.

Scottish Conservative public health spokeswoman Annie Wells said: “Any opportunity to discuss how to tackle Scotland’s drug crisis is welcome.

“By organising its own event, the SNP should reaffirm its support for the UK-wide summit taking place the day after.

“That’s the event experts, responsible agencies and cross-party politicians are focusing on.”

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