SNP cuts funding for drugs despite record high in deaths

The Scottish Government is slashing the money it invests in drugs recovery by 11.3 per cent, despite statistics showing a record number of deaths in 2015.

The justice budget for 2016/17 has revealed the fund for Delivery of the Road to Recovery drug strategy is being reduced by more than £250,000.

It means just £2 million will be spent on the initiative, with ministers citing "efficiencies" as one of the reasons for the move.

The budget document which details the cut states the fund "includes grants to third sector organisations and initiatives relating to drugs misuse in order to support safer communities".

Yesterday, it emerged more than 700 people in Scotland died because of drugs in 2015, the highest ever and a doubling in nearly a decade.

Methadone contributed to more than a third of those deaths, while legal highs featured in around one in 10 fatalities.

It was also reported that police officers have been told not to pursue drug offences if it means triggering overtime payments.

West regional MSP, Jamie Greene, said "It’s incredible that this kind of funding is being reduced at a time when record numbers are losing their lives to drugs. If anything, the Scottish Government should be putting more resource into this, not slashing it.

"As the budget document itself states, this is money which makes communities safer and helps charities which get people off drugs.

"Yesterday’s damning statistics should be a very stark wake-up call to the SNP.

"It needs to act on this problem now, because every person that loses their life to addiction is a personal and family tragedy, and more needs to be done to help."