Liberal Democrats call for action on Lanarkshire Drug Deaths

8th August 202

Local Liberal Democrats have called for urgent action to tackle the record levels of drug deaths in Lanarkshire and across Scotland as a whole. As reported in the Rutherglen Reformer last week, South Lanarkshire had the 4th highest level of drug deaths in Scotland. Scotland as a whole has the worst record of drug deaths in Europe and recent figures were the 7th yearly increase in a row. 

Newly released figures on Scotland’s drugs death crisis show that 185 people died of drug-related deaths in Lanarkshire Health Board area in 2020 compared to 163 the previous year.  

National figures show 1,339 drug-related deaths in 2020, an increase of 5% from 2019.


Scottish Liberal Democrats have launched a four point plan to tackle the drugs crisis. The Plan calls on the Scottish Government to -

  • take radical steps with the prosecution authorities and the Lord Advocate to help establish heroin assisted treatment and safe consumption spaces. 
  • establish new specialist Family Drug and Alcohol Commissions to help provide wraparound services and to take a holistic approach to those reported for drug offences, learning from best international practice such as that in Portugal.  
  • Divert people caught in possession of drugs for personal use into education, treatment and recovery, ceasing imprisonment in these circumstances. 
  • Adopt the principle that individuals and families shouldn’t have to pay for the care and treatment of those at risk of death from drugs or alcohol. 

Rutherglen Councillor Robert Brown, Liberal Democrat Group Leader on South Lanarkshire Council, said the toll of tragedy was unacceptable and required co-ordinated action between the Scottish Government, the Council and other agencies.

Robert Brown said:

“These are not just number and figures - these are people whose lives were tragically cut short. It’s time that the Scottish Government listened to the experts and took radical action to prevent more drug-related deaths in South Lanarkshire and elsewhere.

But, behind even the tragic toll of death, there are many times more people whose lives have been badly damaged by drugs and others again, not least young people, who are at risk of joining them.

The SNP Government made a 22% cut in the budget for critical prevention services at a time when drug deaths were rising. Help and expertise that people relied upon was cut back when it should have been built on.  Nicola Sturgeon herself admitted they had taken their eye off the ball.

Adoption of the Liberal Democrat plan isn’t a magic solution – but it will go a long way towards turning it round. Apart from specific actions like this though, we need to divert young people away from drugs in the first place and make sure they have education, employment and life opportunities to engage them positively.”


Notes to editors:

Full details of Scotland’s drug-related death figures can be found here 

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