IT is an issue that has split the city in half – how do you solve Dundee’s devastating drug deaths problem?
This week Tele revealed that 72 people’s lives had been cut short due to drugs in just 12 months – double as many as the year before.
Responding to the story, readers were split on the matter – with some calling for decriminalisation, including “shooting galleries” for users to safely take drugs, and others saying the only way to tackle the problem was tough love.
Graeme Wylie said: “Why are drugs illegal? I personally don’t use them.
“People are going to use them, there is nothing anyone can do to stop it so why don’t the governments just legalise them and let people make up their own minds?”
Garry Bradley added: “Legalise all drugs, make them safe and build support units for addicts. If people want to take drugs, they will.”
William Alisdair Clark said he feared recent legislation on minimum pricing of alcohol could lead to increases in drug use – saying he fears that cider will become more expensive than heroin.
He said: “It is going to get worse with minimum pricing on alcohol.Education works for the majority of the people but not everyone.
“Hit the dealers harder maybe, but for every one you remove two move in and, for every seizure taken, many more get in while police are busy.”
Moe Thomson said: “The more liberal we’ve gotten towards drugs, the higher the mortality rate. Coincidence?”
Margaret Ferrier said she believed the best way to solve the drug deaths issue was to open more rehab centres for people living with addiction.
City homeless charity Eagle Wings Trust said it was “devastated” by the figure revealed in the Tele on Tuesday.
A social media post said: “We knew the figures were going to be high, but this is horrific. This is definitely a crisis – what else has to happen for things to change?”
Leading city figureheads have been split on the matter.
Councillor Ken Lynn, chairman of Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership integrated joint board, admitted something had gone wrong with tackling drug deaths – calling for a more compassionate approach in future.
Meanwile, Lib Dem councillor Fraser Macpherson suggested ministers ought to consider radical measures such as decriminalisation.
The Scottish Government has said it will develop “innovative” new approaches to saving lives – which could include so-called “shooting galleries” – while the new Dundee Drug Misuse Commission is working to examine underlying social causes.
Mr Macpherson claimed the current strategy of trying to thwart drug dealers has “failed” and as a result, Scotland should look to countries like Portugal for inspiration.
Conservative Ferry councillor Philip Scott said he remained opposed to “shooting galleries”, while North East MSP Bill Bowman said he “was yet to be convinced of the merits of public consumption”.
This year’s death toll dwarfs previous tallies, from 14 who died from drugs in the city at the turn of the century to the the 19 deaths reported 15 years ago. Three years ago, in 2015, the number was half of what it is now.
The figure — covering April 2017 to March this year — equates to one person dying from drugs every five days for an entire year.