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Glasgow addiction services

11/12/2007

Minister for Community Safety Fergus Ewing today praised local services and the "Glasgow philosophy" in tackling the problem of drug addiction.

Delivering the opening lecture at the Glasgow Addiction Services Christmas Conference, Mr Ewing said:

"I'd like to pay tribute to the work being done in Glasgow and the wider area. You work with over a fifth of Scotland's problematic drug users, an estimated 12,000 heroin users.

"In the area you serve there are over 7000 children affected by at least one parent's serious drug problem - a truly harrowing and a stark reminder of the importance of the work you do on a daily basis, work that can sometimes go unrecognised.

"You are attempting to meet these challenges not just through commitment and hard work but through progressive and forward thinking structures. The decision to integrate different individuals and agencies working on drugs and alcohol and to create Glasgow Addiction Services was undoubtedly the right one, and I congratulate those responsible.

"It has almost doubled the number of people in contact with services, meaning improved access to care and treatment and community-based rehabilitation. There is also a stronger focus on employability and social renewal - a vision I am looking for across Scotland.

"As you know the Government intends to publish its new drug strategy in the Spring. Much of the detail is being worked up in the weeks ahead, including in talks with many of you and bodies such as SACDM and service users.

"Child protection will clearly form a key plank of the strategy. Nationally our estimate is that there are around 40,000-60,000 children affected by parental drugs misuse in Scotland.

"In developing our thinking around the children affected by the substance misusing agenda, we will focus on prevention, early intervention and support for children and families.

"Of course there is a significant responsibility on agencies to get it right - especially when it comes to protecting children. But it is also incumbent on us as individuals and communities for us to take responsibility for our neighbours and fellow citizens. Everyone needs to be vigilant to the terrible situations of children in drug abusing households. This is not about interfering but protecting the safety, health and life chances of our children.

"I have spoken today about our moral obligations - to addicts, to their children, their families and to each other - to move beyond old models of working, to deal with the drug dealers, and to look out for children at risk of harm.

"I strongly believe that we need to get beyond the stale debates of the past and build a new consensus based on evidence of what works. There is a self-indulgence in seeking to polarise any debate; in seeking to define camps or schools of thought; or to label or dismiss one set of solutions. I want to re-energise people working on the ground, who all too often are demoralised and dismayed by the quality of debate at national level.

"I am seeking a new national consensus on the way forward. One that includes an explicit commitment to research and evidence, while being at the cutting edge of developments across Europe and the World. I also give a personal commitment to work with colleagues across Parliament to put this issue above party politics, and for the Government - with the support of Parliament - to show national leadership."