1. Executive Summary
1.1 This report summarises the themes discussed and conclusions drawn by the Cross Party Working Group (CPWG) on New Psychoactive Substances (NPS). This report should be read in conjunction with the presentation materials and minutes which are available on the Scottish Government website.
1.2 The CPWG was established and chaired by the Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, following his Statement to Parliament on 26 February 2015.
1.3 Membership of the CPWG was drawn from each of the five main political parties in Scotland which included the Scottish Labour Party, the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, the Scottish National Party, the Scottish Green/ Independent Party and the Scottish Liberal Democrats.
1.4 The CPWG were asked to build upon the existing cross party consensus and work together to address the challenges NPS present to communities across Scotland. The CPWG heard from a range of experts in the field, examined the work currently underway, developed a shared understanding of the problem, and oversaw and contributed ideas to the range of themed work already underway on NPS.
1.5 The CPWG concluded that there are a number of options on how NPS could be addressed further in Scotland. These are outlined below:
1. Improved NPS related communication is needed across each of the health boards in Scotland to assist clinicians and staff to better understand NPS, raise awareness of symptoms of patients who may have consumed NPS and to share knowledge and best practice across the healthcare profession.
2. The Scottish Government should continue to engage with stakeholders to consider how to improve data collection on NPS for Emergency Department attendances and hospital admissions.
3. Further engagement with mental health services is required to better understand the challenges in relation to NPS particularly in the area of dual diagnosis.
4. Progress on the aspirations for a Forensic Centre for Excellence should be monitored on a regular basis to ensure this work does not lose momentum.
5. Further steps should be taken to better embed the term 'NPS' within wider society.
6. A peer-led approach should form part of the process in designing, developing and disseminating NPS information to young people.
7. Work with youth workers to increase knowledge of NPS, awareness of the associated health risks and how these can be minimised. This work should also include confidence raising techniques to assist youth workers in providing support to young people using NPS.
8. Steps should be taken to further promote the range of educational initiatives and resources within the school setting including engagement with Directors of Education and Parent and Teacher Associations.
9. Social media tools should be exploited more fully in relation to NPS education.
10. Ensure wide dissemination of the findings from the Understanding the Prevalence, Motivations and Harms of NPS use in Scotland research, when published, and ensure appropriate action is taken to address the areas for improved practice. This evidence should be embedded into the next steps of interventions.
11. The recent action taken by Trading Standards Services should be highlighted as a model of good practice and should be used as an example to other local authority trading standards in tackling NPS.
12. Support should be provided to Alcohol and Drug Partnerships in preparing for the challenges the introduction of the Psychoactive Substances Act will bring in relation to those who use NPS. Support should also be provided on how to treat their needs and associated health harms due to withdrawal or potential bulk buying and overdosing.
Email: Vicky Carmichael
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