Dundee’s battle against drug abuse has reached a “turning point” this week as new findings are to be reviewed.
Progress of efforts to reduce the number of drug-related deaths is to be examined over the next six months, following the launch of the Dundee Drug Commission.
The review will look at what changes have been made since the independent panel was formed in 2018 and what still needs to be done.
Dundee Partnership – a body made up of representations from Dundee City Council, Scottish Enterprise, Tayside Police and NHS Tayside amongst others – formed the commission as a response to the increasing number of drug-related deaths in the city.
From this week, commissioners will hear from people affected by drug abuse and their families, as well as support service providers.
Dr Robert Peat, chairman of the commission, said: “Our primary aim is to determine the extent to which the recommendations and actions highlighted in our report have been implemented by the partnership.
“We are aware of some of the work which has been taking place through discussion with the chief executives of Dundee City Council and NHS Tayside and the chief officer of the Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership.
“We are looking forward to hearing from other partners about the changes taking place in the city.”
The review will examine relevant systems, processes and cultures in line with the recommendations in the 2019 report.
“Our aim is to speak with people affected by drug use and the impact of drug-related deaths, including family members,” said Dr Peat.
“We want to discuss with service providers the extent of the changes in the city since the publication of our report.”
Highest drug deaths in Europe
In 2019, drug-related deaths in Dundee spiked at a record high and the worst in Europe.
This latest review was expected to take place a year after the publication of the 2019 report. However, it was delayed due to the pandemic.
A series of information-gathering meetings will be held between now and December. Although these will be held in private, the commission’s findings will be made public at the end of the process.
Dundee City Council leader and chairman of the Dundee Partnership, John Alexander, said: “All the Dundee partners are absolutely clear in their commitment that the commission’s findings represented a turning point for our city.
“Drugs are a scourge, ripping families and communities apart.
“Although the pandemic has delayed the review itself, recommendations from the commission are being put into action and are making an impact.
“However, this is a long-term journey and we cannot cut corners when it comes to putting in place changes to save lives. There are no easy solutions.
“We welcome the further support of the commissioners on that journey. Their insights on the progress made so far will be invaluable as we continue to make progress in turning the situation around and saving lives.”
A link to the full 86 page 2019 report can be found here.