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Volume 124: debated on Thursday 17 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what action his Department is taking in conjunction with police authorities to eliminate the distribution of heroin in Scotland;(2) what advice he has given to police authorities in relation to the suppression of heroin abuse; and if he will make a statement.

No specific advice has been given to police authorities on the suppression of heroin misuse as this is an operational matter for chief constables. But, as indicated in "Tackling Drug Misuse: a summary of the Government's strategy", a copy of which is in the Library, we regard action to combat drug misuse as commanding a high priority from all the agencies involved.To support the police in their efforts to curb drug misuse, my right hon. and learned Friend has approved increases in authorised establishments to enable drug units to be formed in all eight Scottish forces. There are now around 100 officers specifically engaged in drugs work in Scottish forces compared to about 30 in 1979. In addition, the strength of the Scottish crime squad was increased by 21 officers in 1986 to allow the formation of drugs wings based in Edinburgh and Glasgow. The rate of specific police grant was increased from 50 to 51 per cent. with effect from 1986–87 in recognition of the demands, including the need to tackle drugs misuse, upon police resources.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many deaths atttributed to heroin abuse have been recorded in each year since 1977.

The international classification diseases categories do not identify whether a death is due to heroin abuse. The following figures show all deaths where heroin was mentioned in the underlying cause.


To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what reports he has received about recent deaths in the Glasgow area from heroin abuse; and if he will make a statement.

None. I understand that the circumstances surrounding four recent deaths in Glasgow apparently associated with heroin misuse are being investigated by the procurator fiscal in Glasgow who will in due course submit a report to the Crown Office.