This session will take place in memory of Kenny Simpson of Police Scotland, a tireless campaigner of compassionate policing of the MDA 71 who died 3 years ago, and whose service of remembrance was held on the 26th February 2018. We will hear from a range of speakers who will speak about trauma and compassion in the criminal justice system, and how the Misuse of Drugs Act- and the way it is policed and prosecuted – impacts drug consumers.
As usual, the format will be short presentations with Q & A’s, then small group conversations on the issues raised. Outcomes of the discussions will be recorded and fed into the wider discussion and engagements taking place this year.
Our speakers are:
- Iain Smith: Iain won Lawyer of the year in 2020 for his work on childhood trauma and the criminal justice system.
- Robert More: Robert is a lawyer with in-depth experience on the policing and prosecution of MDA offences.
- Claire Mitchell QC: Claire is a criminal defence and appeals court QC, with expertise in human rights.
- Graham Goulden: Cultivating Minds. Graham is an advocate of compassionate approaches to policing having spent the last 8 years of his Police Scotland career at the Violence Reduction Unit.
Questions to deliberate
- What impact does the MDA have on people who are prosecuted under it?
- Does it complement or contradict the Public Health focus of Scottish Drug Policy?
- What mechanisms can be implemented under the current law that would improve public health responses to drug use – both ‘problematic’ and ‘recreational’?
The event will be held on MS Teams, and a link will be sent out on the morning of the 26th February. Spaces will be limited so please book using the Eventbrite link below, or email Anna Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Scottish Drug Policy Conversations was set up in 2015 by Mike McCarron and Anna Ross in order to instigate respectful dialogue between different stakeholders in drug policy. The initial brief focussed on the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and whether it was fit for purpose in a 21st Century Scotland. Over the course of 6 years we explored a range of topics (see further www.sdpc.org.uk/documents ) and we have returned to this theme in light of the MDA’s 50th anniversary, and the Scottish Governments commitment to engaging stakeholders on the impact of the MDA in Scotland.
The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 is a reserved matter under Schedule 5 B1 of The Scotland Act 1998. Interpretation of the 1971 Act, where possible, is devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Scotland’s current drug policy document ‘Rights, Respect and Recovery (2018) sets out strategic actions designed to promote recovery of people with drug problems and reduce the impact of problematic drug use through improving the life chances of those most likely to develop such problematic drug use. An established priority in Scottish political and civic discourse is investment in preventative measures through addressing wider societal inequalities, such as more early years support. However, there are many other preventative options, not yet realised, that have significant relevance for reducing drug problems at population level.
In recent years there have been increasing calls from prominent figures and institutions around the word for a change in how governments respond to drug use and the social harms stemming from problematic drug use (RSA, 2007; UKDPC; IDPC, TDPF,). However, despite the mounting evidence presented, including recommendations by the Scottish Affairs Select Committee in 2019, and the 2018 Scottish drug policy strategy ‘Rights, Respects and Recovery, Westminster Governments continue to reject calls for a review of the effectiveness of current UK drug policy legislation.
With this perspective SDPC aims to bring together expert stakeholders and the wider drug policy community in order to review current drug policy and practice in Scotland. We will explore whether there is flexibility within the current law to implement a range of public health responses, and what legal changes would/should be made if we were to have full control over drug policy legislation.