Home Secretary Suella Braverman has told the Scottish government its proposals to decriminalise drugs for personal use would do “untold damage to our neighbourhoods”.
Scottish drugs minister Elena Whitham announced the plans on Friday – which would require the backing of the UK government – along with a framework for the creation of safe consumption rooms and the consideration of implementing the regulated supply of drugs.
Within an hour of the announcement, the British prime minister’s official spokesman had knocked down the proposals.
In a meeting with Scottish Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville on Tuesday, the Home Secretary again hit out at the plans.
A readout of the meeting provided by the Home Office described the meeting as “fiery”.
“To be clear this government will not be changing our policy on personal use of illegal drugs,” the Home Secretary said at the London meeting.
“I am very clear that illegal drugs destroy lives and communities – they are devastating.
“The proposals I read from the Scottish National Party last week are irresponsible and would do untold damage to our neighbourhoods.
“We’re focused on protecting people and preventing lives from being ruined, targeting gangs and preventing supply of drugs from overseas.
“We’ve absolutely no intention of decriminalising illegal drug use and I think the Scottish National Party should focus their efforts on what powers they do have such as reforming health outcomes for the Scottish people.
“Drug deaths are still a huge problem in Scotland and this government is keen to work together to try to tackle that problem and prevent the very levels of drug deaths in Scotland.”
According to the readout, the Social Justice Secretary said the two governments would always “fundamentally disagree” on drugs.
Scotland has had the highest level of drug-related deaths in Western Europe in recent years, with 1,330 recorded in 2021 – the latest data set – and the Scottish Government is looking to more radical approaches to stem the tide.