SCOTTISH Government minister Elena Whitham recently unveiled a new policy paper with some radical proposals, including decriminalising of possession of drugs for personal use and changes to legislation to allow supervised drug consumption facilities.

Within ten minutes of that announcement, the government minister in Westminster responsible for drugs policy said there was no way they would consider it.

Scottish drugs deaths are a uniquely Scottish problem, caused by decades of failing to offer treatments that suits the needs of addicts. A Scottish problem needs a Scottish solution. The off-hand refusal by the Westminster parliament to even look at and discuss solutions that have proven to work well in many other countries defies logic and shows a complete disregard for following the science, which the Conservatives claim is how we should deal with these deadly problems.

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The Scottish Conservative constantly berate the Scottish Government for failing to reduce our drugs deaths. The Conservatives in Scotland are developing their own policy to guarantee addicts immediate access to treatment, but they seem to be completely blind to how Westminster’s head-in-the-sand, we-know-best policies continue to refuse to allow such proposals to happen.

Anyone with half a brain must know by now that we have had nearly 60 years of failed UK drugs policies, all adopted from the even bigger failure of American policies, like “just say no to drugs”, the methadone programme — which has trapped too many addicts for years on medication that may keep them dozy enough to be less of a problem, but does not cure them – or the building of more and more private prisons to house even more desperately sick addicts.

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Criminalising mentally ill, addicted people, and dumping them in a prison system that is both overcrowded and unsuitable place to treat decades of addiction is not a solution, it is a form of state-funded torture of mainly poor people. It makes no sense, it is a waste of public funds and has only succeeded in increasing the number of people addicted to drugs.

As this lunatic UK Government approach continues, they haven’t even noticed, let alone taken seriously, the latest drug trend affecting our children, which if not addressed immediately will for certain create a completely new generation of addicts, who will inevitably go on to use even more dangerous drugs. That problem is very cheap, single-use vaping products that children as young as 11 are using. The Scottish Government’s successful reduction of smoking over the last 20 years has reduced children’s smoking to around 7%. The use of single-use vaping by children under 17 in 2022 was already 7.7% and a year later it has reached 11.6%. There is only one viable solution to that problem, it is to completely ban it now, killing dead that trend before it rally takes off. BUT, I see no prospect of Number 10 having the guts to do something so sensible and radical.

Max Cruickshank

RECENT statistics highlighting a sharp increase in attacks on school staff, and the fact that almost all of these are linked to pupils with additional support needs (ASN), should come as no surprise to those like us who have been arguing for some time that this issue is quickly becoming a national scandal.

The number of children and young people with ASN has more than doubled since 2012, and now amounts to more than a third of pupils. This has been further exacerbated by increasing mental health problems, the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost- of-living crisis.

However, this is set against a background of acute under-resourcing, with the number of specialist ASN teachers falling by 546 between 2012 and 2022 as just one example.

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Additional funding is desperately needed to increase the numbers of specialist staff available to support those with ASN, as well as better support for teachers working with young people from a wide range of backgrounds. We would also suggest that the Scottish Government expand school counselling provision to all primary and special schools.

Violence against any member of school staff or another pupil is never acceptable, and it is critical that local authorities and the Scottish Government take all possible action to ensure that our schools are safe places in which to work and to learn.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition: Kenny Graham, Falkland House School; Lynn Bell, LOVE Learning; Stephen McGhee, Spark of Genius; Niall Kelly, Young Foundations

MY word, a “Redcoat Cafe” cafe in our Edinburgh Castle. Next thing you’ll be telling me is you go down Shakespeare Street to get to Robert Burns’s house in Dumfries. (Oh, you do!!). Apart from the obvious “Union Street”, are there any other gleaming examples of our opponents’ opportunism? A Longshanks Lane or a Proud Edward’s Esplanade perhaps?

Kenneth Burnett
Dyce, Aberdeen