A UK-wide summit on tackling problem drug use will be held in Glasgow next month, it has been announced.
Drug recovery experts, health professionals, senior police officers and Government ministers from all four UK nations will be in attendance at the event on February 27.
There had been cross-party calls for a summit to address the issue of drugs misuse, with the number of drugs deaths in Scotland rising to 1,187 in 2018 – the highest since records began in 1996.
UK Minister for Crime, Policing and the Fire Service Kit Malthouse, who will chair the event, welcomed the opportunity to hear from experts and other key individuals.
“People are dying from drugs every day across the UK and this summit will bring us together to tackle the issue of drug misuse,” he said.
“We must have firm enforcement action and do all we can on prevention, recovery and treatment, too.
“I look forward to meeting key individuals from across the UK and listening to their views on addressing this challenge.”
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “The high numbers of lives lost to drugs in Scotland is a tragedy, a huge cause for concern.
“I am pleased that the UK Government is to bring experts together from all parts of the country, to share experience about tackling this terrible scourge.”
Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said the Scottish Government was not consulted on the summit.
“What Scotland faces in terms of drug deaths is nothing short of a public health emergency and we will engage constructively with any attempts to save lives,” he said.
“I have asked UK Government ministers repeatedly to meet to discuss this issue and to attend a summit we were organising.
“I was, therefore, very surprised that the UK Government announced a summit in Glasgow without any consultation with the Scottish Government and Glasgow.”
He added: “Regardless of how the UK Government have chosen to go about this, what really matters is reducing harm and saving lives.
“That’s why listening to, and engaging with, people with lived experience of drug use and those on the front line must be central to any summit.
“We will now, again, attempt to work with the UK Government to facilitate this.”