Submitted by Edinburgh Drug Action
1.1 Members of Edinburgh Drug Action Team
(EDAT) represent the NHS, the local authority Departments of Social
Work, Housing, Education, Police, the voluntary sector, the Scottish
Prison Service, Social Inclusion Partnerships and the commercial
sector in the city.
1.2 EDAT partners work together to implement
a balanced strategy which addresses treatment, care and rehabilitation
and enforcement and criminal justice issues for drug users and
their families. To this end, the Procurator Fiscal has recently
been invited to join EDAT. This will add an important dimension
to the work in progress.
1.3 The work of Edinburgh Drug Action Team
is informed by:
Tackling Drugs in Scotland Action
A Drugs Strategy for the City of
2.1 In relation to the terms of reference
of the Home Affairs Select Committee, this submission focuses
on drug policy and the national strategy.
3. HARM REDUCTION
3.1 EDAT's main responsibility is to ensure
that agencies work towards common goals. In tackling drug misuse,
EDAT adopts a harm reduction approach. This reflects the principles
and basis of the Scottish Executive's National Drug Strategy.
It involves a pragmatic response, taking into account the needs
of drug users, their families and the wider communities in which
they live. Minimising the harm from drugs to both drug users and
communities is fundamental to the approach taken in Edinburgh
to address the problems of drug misuse. It builds on our experience
of tackling the issues presented by HIV/AIDS in the city in the
3.2 EDAT recognises the need to balance
the activities of its partners and to maximise the potential and
flexibility that exists within the various partner organisations
without limiting their effectiveness in fulfilling their respective
statutory responsibilities. For instance, Lothian & Borders
Police is primarily a law enforcement agency and as such, it has
statutory duties and powers under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
It has nonetheless, a number of officers whose primary remit is
drug education and prevention and who work collaboratively with
staff from other agencies to raise awareness in the community.
4. NATIONAL DRUG
4.1 The local priorities are reflected in
EDAT Corporate Action Plan 2001-02. Much work which is being undertaken
to address drug misuse results from the need to meet national
targets. There is concern that some targets and objectives are
very ambitious and may prove to be unachievable. The UK Key Objective
for "Young People" seeks to reduce the proportion of
young people under 25 reporting use of illegal drugs in the last
month and previous year. Despite increased drugs education however,
levels of drug use in 13-15 year olds remains stable.
4.2 There is a growing amount of anecdotal
evidence at national and local level that the incidence of injecting
is increasing, this despite a national target which aims to reduce
injecting by 25 per cent. There is concern about this target and
whether it is achievable against the increasing availability of
heroin and steadily rising levels of injecting drug use, despite
the efforts of prevention services. We are pleased to note, however,
that in Edinburgh the level of injecting remains below the national
average; our efforts will continue to be directed at reducing
as far as practicable, the levels of injecting particularly amongst
new, young drug users.
4.3 Regional differences in drug trends
can mean that Drug Action Teams be required to address national
targets that may conflict with local priorities. Equally changing
trends in drug use over time can affect the achievement of targets.
The national targets and strategy were compiled prior to it becoming
clear that cocaine was becoming an increasing problem in the Edinburgh
area. Likewise, stimulant drug use is now being addressed within
the city in recognition that existing services were originally
set up for opiate drug users.
4.4 Engaging with communities has so far
proved to be limited. There is a difficulty in defining "community",
complicated by the fact that there are geographical communities
and communities of interest, which may on occasions overlap and
conflict with each other. Additionally, with the multiplicity
of initiatives that involve community consultation, communities
are beginning to feel "fatigued".
4.5 In relation to targets relating to "Availability",
the requirement to increase the number of seizures by 25 per cent
could easily be attained. Lothian & Borders Police however
are committed to targeting dealers and class A drugs, adopting
a qualitative rather than quantitative approach to policing and
4.6 There is a need for further clarification
in relation to "drugs-related" crime and offences, so
that Social Work Departments and Criminal Justice Services can
gather appropriate data. It is important to ensure that there
is consistency in interpretation of the term, particularly if
comparisons are to be made using information contained in DATs'
Corporate Action Plans.
5.1 In conclusion, it should be noted that,
whilst the main strands of the UK and Scottish Drug Strategies
afford a framework for monitoring progress in combating drug misuse,
changing trends, regional variations in drug use and the pervasive
nature of illegal drug supply, may mitigate against the achievement
of some goals.
5.2 EDAT welcomes the new resources made
available recently by the Scottish Executive. The partners are
committed to working together and in partnership with the Scottish
Executive and other DATs, to address the challenges posed by drug
misuse in our communities.
6 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Technical
Report 1: Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use in the 1990's, HBSC,
March 1999. Back