Drug Deaths Task Force


The Drugs Deaths Taskforce was established in July 2019 by the Minister for Public Health and Sport, supported by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, to tackle the rising number of drug deaths in Scotland. 

The primary role of the taskforce is to co-ordinate and drive action to improve the health outcomes for people who use drugs, reducing the risk of harm and death. 

The taskforce will specifically: 

  • examine and publish evidence of the triggers of drug deaths and what we have learned in Scotland about how they can be prevented
  • collate and publish good practice about what has worked in other parts of the UK and internationally to prevent death and harm arising from drug use
  • work with partners to identify, spread and sustain good practice in Scotland
  • identify specific barriers in the planning, commissioning and delivery of addiction services in Scotland
  • review whether the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 affects the provision of a strengthened and consistent public health approach to drug use, recognising that this is reserved to the UK Parliament and any changes will require the agreement of the UK Parliament
  • identify the extent to which the availability of appropriate programmes and treatment options limit the use of diversion from the criminal justice system or the use of constructive sentencing options within the criminal justice system
  • identify the full range of support services which help to reduce harm and identify deficiencies in the delivery framework, availability and provision of such services
  • make recommendations for changes in current health and social care practice and on how a public health approach to drugs might be more fully realised across all relevant services and in the justice system

You can find updates and reflections on the taskforce's work on its blog.


Chair: Professor Catriona Matheson, University of Stirling

See the full list of members and their biographies


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