Nicola Sturgeon: Scottish Government 'has failed' in its response to drugs death crisis

The Scottish Government “has failed” in its response to the drugs crisis, Nicola Sturgeon has admitted.

Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross said the Scottish Government’s drug treatment system was “fundamentally broken” and called for the government’s backing of his party’s Right to Recovery Bill that he said would ensure everyone has access to the necessary treatment they needed.

He said the measures already brought up by drugs policy minister Angela Constance were “not game changing” and are “the least the government should do”.

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Mr Ross asked Ms Sturgeon at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday: “Does [the First Minister] accept that in Scotland today, people are still being denied access to rehab, and her government's addiction treatment system is fundamentally broken?”

Nicola Sturgeon has said her government has "failed" on drugs reform policy. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Nicola Sturgeon has said her government has "failed" on drugs reform policy. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Ms Sturgeon said: “I do accept that we are not yet at the place we want to be in terms of drug treatment and services generally.

"There are few things that the government is more serious about doing. We are keen to work across the chamber, in so far as is possible.

"I have been open about the fact that I don't think, notwithstanding our efforts and our determination in this area of policy, that we've not yet brought forward a package of policies that are sufficient to tackle the severity of the challenge we face and I don't shy away from that.”

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She added: “This is perhaps an orthodox way of doing politics, but if people want me to stand here and defend everything that we have not got right in the past, I'm not going to do that.

"I think we have failed in aspects of drugs policy and I am determined to get it right.

"I'm not going to describe a system as broken completely because I think that does a disservice to the many people across the country, who are delivering services for people in need. But I do accept that the government’s response hasn't always matched that, and that's what we've got to get right.”

Ms Sturgeon said that legislation could slow down the government’s response to the crisis.

She said: “My mind is not closed to statutory underpinning. What I think we have to be cautious about is waiting for the time it takes to pass legislation before getting on with this work.”

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