The long-awaited report from the Dundee Drugs Commission has been welcomed by those who are now expected to act on its findings.
In its 80-page report on the city’s drug problems, the commission has been highly critical of the perception of drug users by the treatment services which are meant to help them but often set them back in their recovery.
Themed around responding to drug use with “kindness, compassion and hope”, the report is based on evidence taken from more than 1,000 people.
It has been compiled based on the findings of social work, psychiatry, public health and family services, as well as members of the police and local councillors.
And after months of meetings, interviews and evidence gathering from dozens of city services, the onus is now on the Dundee Partnership to act on the report’s 16 recommendations – with signs of activity expected within a year.
John Alexander, leader of Dundee City Council and chairman of the partnership, said: “We all have a part to play in this now.
“There was no point in having this commission unless we were going to act on it. The question now is how we take it forward.”
The Dundee Partnership – the grouping of organisations such as NHS Tayside, Dundee City Council and police – will meet next month to discuss the commission’s findings.
A public conference will take place in October, explaining what the partnership seeks to do to address the problems in the city.
Mr Alexander added: “Twelve months down the line some of the commission members might see what we’re doing – and we will welcome that.”
The commission report has criticised the set-up of Dundee’s alcohol and drugs partnership (ADP) – responsible for administering addiction services.
Commissioners described “significant and unnecessary delays” in accessing some service records – and believe they were seen by service bosses as a “threat”.
Simon Little, independent chairman of the ADP, admitted that systemic change was needed to do better by city drug users.
He said: “We’ve got to own up to our past but the focus is now on the future. For us, it will be about learning to engage with service users and those with lived experience to understand what they think needs to change, and embrace that.”
NHS Tayside’s Trudy McLeay added: “We will be working much more in partnership now (with the ADP). We know we need to have an open door policy – nobody should be turned away from treatment.”
For Chief Superintendent Andrew Todd, divisional commander for Tayside’s police, the fight his officers bring in the war on drugs needs a renewed focus.
Chief Supt Todd said: “This is a public health issue, not one of criminal justice.
“We will still prosecute the people who profit from drugs but the people who have a dependency are vulnerable and we are trying to help them. We cannot fix this through enforcement alone.
“These people are still human beings and citizens of this city. They are absolutely victims.”
Robert Peat, chairman of the commission, believes he has led the creation of a “robust” report.
He said: “It is the collective leadership in the city which must now show the determination to stick with what will be a difficult task over the coming months and years ahead.”