A FORMER top police officer has been named as the new head of Scotland's drugs deaths taskforce following the resignation of its former chief.

David Strang was announced by Drugs Minister Anglea Constance as the new head of the taskforce during a debate in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon.

He began his police career in the Metropolitan Police in London going on to become the Chief Constable of Dumfries and Galloway Police in 2001 before going on to lead the Lothian and Borders Police from 2007. 

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Upon the formation of Police Scotland in 2013, he was appointed Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland. 

It comes after the resignation of Prof Catriona Matheson, a professor of substance use at the University of Stirling, and her deputy Neil Richardson in December 2021. 

The Scottish Government had requested all her work to be completed by July 2022 – much sooner than had been expected . 

She told the BBC the work of the taskforce was being "squeezed" by politics.

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Scottish drug deaths reached their highest level on record in 2020 – at 1339 lives lost. 

It was the highest rate in Europe and more than three times higher than in England and Wales.

Strag previously headed an inquiry into metal health services in Tayide, where he recommended the integration of mental health and substance abuse services.