Responding to official auditors finding that overall funding for alcohol and drugs partnerships “fell over the last few years before returning to 2015 levels by April 2021, but with no real terms increase" and issuing warnings about how funding will be distributed, time lags in public reporting and data gaps around referrals, waiting times and outcomes, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said:
"Scottish Government drug policy has been a lesson in failure. Funds were cut to alcohol and drugs partnerships and valuable experience was lost. That has never been properly replaced.
"Scotland’s drug death emergency is not a symptom of UK government policy or a deficiency in the devolution settlement. But things have become so bad, we should consider the further devolution of powers over drugs policy to the Scottish Parliament to so that an incoming government might try to get to grips with the failures of the SNP through an innovative and more humane set of policies. The devolution of such powers is well-tested in other devolved regions of the world.
"In the meantime, we need more effective leadership from the Scottish government to reduce deaths and ensure that additional money is spent effectively.
"Scotland's performance on drug and alcohol deaths has been truly terrible, particularly in many of our poorest and most deprived neighbourhoods. That must change."