Select Committee on Home Affairs Memoranda


Submitted by Edinburgh Drug Action Team


  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 in Partnership;

    —  A Drugs Strategy for the City of Edinburgh 1999-2002.


  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.


  3.1  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 1980s.

  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.


  4.1  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.[6]

  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 enforcement initiatives.

  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.

September 2001

6   Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Technical Report 1: Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use in the 1990's, HBSC, March 1999. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 20 December 2001