from the Falkirk Herald, 14 August 2008
SHOCK new figures reveal drug deaths in the Falkirk area are spiralling.
Last year, 15 lives were lost, a rise of 50 per cent on the previous 12 months.
Despite high-profile operations by Central Scotland Police to crack down on dealers – £2 million-worth of drugs were taken off the streets in 2007-08 – the human cost of addiction continues to rise.
Now an MSP has called for everyone to work together to tackle the problem.
Cathy Peattie said: “There has to be a joined up approach across all services if we are going to do something about this.
“And let’s be quite clear, it isn’t just affecting one group, it’s all sections of society which are affected. It’s a terrible situation and we need to do something now.”
The grim statistics were revealed in a report by the Registrar General for Scotland which analysed drug-related deaths across the country.
Across Scotland there were 455 deaths through drugs in 2007, an eight per cent rise on the previous year and 103 per cent more than in 1997.
Forth Valley had one of the highest increases in deaths through drug misuse.
Last year, there were 26 fatalities, a rise of two from 2006 but compared to just four in 1997.
The Falkirk Council figures show deaths had been rising steadily from 2003 but jumped from 10 to 15 last year. A decade ago there were no drug-related deaths in this area.
Eight people died after taking heroin or morphine, two from methadone, three from diazepam and six through alcohol abuse.
Admitting drugs remain readily available in communities, Central Scotland Police chief constable Andrew Cameron said his officers had worked hard to dismantle and disrupt supply networks.
Highlighting the £2 million of seizures, he paid tribute to communities “which have decided they will not tolerate this activity on their doorsteps and have given information which has led to this quite incredible quantity of drugs being taken out of circulation”.
Mr Cameron said: “We arrest drug dealers and work with partners to really try and raise awareness of the dangers of drugs. We are keen to ensure that young people make choices around this issue and are fully aware of the devastating impact it can have on family life.”
The Falkirk East MSP also stressed that drugs don’t just affect those misusing the substances but also their family and friends.
Mrs Peattie said: “It’s heartbreaking to listen to parents tell of how they’ve tried to get support because they’re desperate to do whatever they can for their bairns.
“These figures clearly show drug deaths are on the increase. The police are doing a smashing job tackling the dealers but we need to do more to ensure that no more young people’s lives are lost or wasted.
“We need all agencies working together to tackle this. The time people are having to wait for treatment and follow-up support – which needs to be longer than a couple of months – is currently too long. Those at risk need to be identified and action taken much quicker if we are to get results and drive down these figures.”
The local authority is also involved in the war on drugs. Fiona Campbell, head of policy and performance review, said: “Substance misuse can have devastating consequences resulting in real tragedy for families involved.
“Falkirk Council looks to ensure the delivery of services for substance misusers and their families by our leading role in the Falkirk
Substance Action Team. This includes the provision of a tiered approach from basic information and education to intensive rehabilitation therapy.
“Addressing the issues of substance misuse is a priority for elected members and the council.”
On Thursday 12th June in the Scottish Parliament, Falkirk Council and West Lothian Councils met with the Minister for Transport, Stewart Stevenson, and other MSPs.
The meeting was arranged by Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie, to give the councils an opportunity to make their case for funding for the A801 Avon Gorge upgrade.
Cathy said: “I think the Minister and his officials have taken on board the arguments that this is not just a local road safety issue – important though that is – it is also a strategic improvement that will bring economic and environmental benefits to the whole of Scotland, and as such, it should be given funding from central government.
“The Scottish Government has identified the Grangemouth intermodal transport hub as a crucial element of Scotland’s economy – and the transition to more environmentally friendly freight transport. In this context, the A801 is not just a local road. It is the shortest arterial route south to the M8. If it wasn’t already so congested and dangerous, more traffic would use it, reducing travel distances and times.
“While there is clearly still much to do to ensure that the plans go ahead, I believe that in conjunction with other improvements around Grangemouth that are supported within the National Planning Framework, the A801 is a strong candidate for government support.”
Posted in transport
Tagged A801, Avon Gorge, Council, environment, Falkirk, freight, Grangemouth, Minister, road, safety, Scottish Parliament, transport, West Lothian
Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie is showing her support for Local Newspaper Week by tabling a motion in the Scottish Parliament, and by hosting, in conjunction with the Scottish Newspaper Publishers Association, a reception in the parliament.
The parliamentary event takes place in the Garden Lobby from 6-8pm on Wednesday 7 May.
The motion which has already gathered support from 22 MSPs, names the Falkirk Herald, the Grangemouth Advertiser and the Bo’ness Journal as examples of newspapers that play a central role in their communities, and congratulates the Falkirk Herald on receiving the Weekly Newspaper of the Year award.
Cathy said that “local newspapers are very important to politicians, not only as a means of communicating with constituents, but also for the role they play in stimulating political debate and supporting and promoting community life. Local Newspaper Week is an opportunity to highlight this within the parliament and in my constituency.”
Cathy also maintains a regular keen interest in the press as Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group on Culture and Media.
The motion, S3M-01823, states “that the Parliament notes that 5 to 11 May 2008 is Local Newspaper Week, which this year has the theme of Campaigning for Your Community, showcasing and exploring the campaigning work undertaken by local newspapers across the country; notes that 84% of adults read a local paper, and that local newspapers and their websites are a highly trusted source of news; believes that local newspapers such as the best-selling Falkirk Herald, the Grangemouth Advertiser and the Bo’ness Journal are important focal points for their communities, providing a forum for debate on local issues and information and feedback about local events; congratulates the Falkirk Herald on being named Weekly Newspaper of the Year at the 29th Press Awards, organised by the Scottish Daily Newspaper Society; notes that local newspapers, through their editorial content and advertising, play an important role in the local economy; believes that local newspapers are an essential component of local democracy, facilitating the dialogue between elected representatives and their constituents, and applauds the hard work of newspaper staff whose dedication underpins the success of the local newspaper industry.