A campaigner has hailed a “significant day” in the battle to reduce Dundee’s drug deaths with the first police officers now beginning work on a project which could ultimately lead to cops carrying Naloxone.
Police Scotland announced last month that approval had been granted to proceed with a pilot project for frontline officers in Dundee, Glasgow and Falkirk to voluntarily carry the nasal spray, which counteracts opioid effects.
The drug has been shown to help prevent people from overdosing and potentially dying by counteracting reduced breathing.
Yesterday two officers began work to facilitate and support the design, delivery and administration of the pilot project,
Training for officers in carrying the spray will begin early next year and they will be able to carry the kits from their training session, should they wish to participate.
Dave Barrie of We Are With You, formerly Addaction, has praised the “fantastic” progress being made as Scotland attempts to tackle its ongoing drugs crisis.
He said: “This is a significant day and this is a key part of the overall strategy to try and reduce overdoses and deaths.
“Police Scotland are often the first responders in these situations and if they have the training to use Naloxone that is going to make a huge difference.
“As we know the first five to 15 seconds can be the most vital in preventing someone from overdosing and dying.
“I think Police Scotland have made massive shifts in recent years and, while still prioritising crime prevention, they play a key role in supporting the public.
“That’s not just with the drugs crisis, that’s also supporting people who have struggles with mental health – this role has really grown in the past few years and I’m sure during the pandemic it has continued to expand.”
Any officer who wishes to take part will undergo a training programme before they ultimately decide whether they want to carry the spray.
From there, they will carry it for six months and there will then be an evidence-based assessment on how effective this measure has been.
Professor Catriona Matheson, of Stirling University, is chairwoman of the Scottish Government Drug Deaths Taskforce, which provided the funding to the force.
She said: “We are delighted Police Scotland has worked with the Drug Deaths Taskforce to develop this pilot naloxone carriage project. Naloxone saves lives and the intra-nasal form the police will carry is very safe and effective.
“This will complement the work of the ambulance service and others who the Drug Deaths Taskforce is working with to increase naloxone carriage, including family members and peers. Well done to Police Scotland for its ambition to contribute positively to addressing Scotland’s dreadful levels of drug-related deaths.”