National rollout of life-saving nasal spray for drug overdose cases following trials in Caithness

Chief Constable Livingstone: ‘I know the terrible toll of drug deaths in Scotland.’

Police officers across Scotland are to be equipped with a life-saving nasal spray for drug users who have taken an overdose following trials in Caithness and four other areas.

The national rollout of Naloxone follows a successful test program during which the spray – which counters the effects of overdose from opioids such as heroin – was used to provide first aid on 62 occasions.

Officers in Wick and Thurso took part in the trials, along with colleagues in Dundee, Falkirk, Glasgow and Stirling.

Police Scotland’s Chief Constable Livingstone said: “I know the terrible toll of drug deaths in Scotland and we are committed to playing our part in reducing the harm caused to individuals, families and communities.

“We have a vital role in preventing drugs from reaching our streets and bringing those engaged in serious and organized crime to justice, and that will always be a key duty and priority for Police Scotland.

An officer in Wick showing the Naloxone pump dispenser which can save the life of someone experiencing an overdose.  Picture: DGSAn officer in Wick showing the Naloxone pump dispenser which can save the life of someone experiencing an overdose. Picture: DGS

“Preservation of life, keeping people safe, lies right at the heart of policing.

“We have a purpose and remit which goes beyond law enforcement – we have a positive legal duty to improve the lives of our communities. Equipping and training officers with Naloxone will contribute to that mission.

“Policing is so often the service of first and last resort, the service first on the scene, the service that responds to crisis and criticality. Where a person is suffering from an overdose, Naloxone nasal spray can be given safely by officers with no adverse effects.

“It is absolutely essential that where Naloxone is used by an officer to help people in crisis, professional medical attention continues to be provided from ambulance service colleagues and others. In addition, it is crucial that timely and sustainable support is available to provide treatment for those suffering addiction.”

He added: “I’m grateful to all the officers who stepped forward during the trial to carry Naloxone and help their fellow citizens when they needed it.”

Officers at Wick Police Station undergoing Naloxone training in June last year.  Picture: DGSOfficers at Wick Police Station undergoing Naloxone training in June last year. Picture: DGS

During the test, 808 officers were trained to use Naloxone, and 656 (81 percent) volunteered to carry the nasal spray kits.

An independent academic review conducted between March and October 2021 recommended a national roll-out.

The review was coordinated by the Scottish Institute for Policing Research.

Work is under way to secure stock of Naloxone and a national program of training and equipping over 12,000 officers will be undertaken in the coming months.

The number of drug-related deaths in Scotland has risen constantly in recent years, to a total of 1339 in 2020.

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