National Mission Oversight Group minutes: December 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 14 December 2023

Attendees and apologies

  • Ms Whitham, Minister for Drugs and Alcohol Policy
  • David Strang, Chair of National Mission Oversight Group
  • Kirsten Horsburgh, Scottish Drugs Forum
  • Justina Murray,  Scottish Families affected by Drugs and Alcohol
  • Emma Crawshaw, CREW 2000 Scotland
  • Susanna Galea-Singer, Royal College of Psychiatrists
  • Chris Williams, Royal College of GPs
  • Laura Wilson, Royal Pharmaceutical Society
  • Professor Tessa Parkes, University of Stirling
  • Lorraine McGrath, Simon Community Scotland
  • Stephen McCutcheon, Lived and Living Experience Representative
  • Sally Amour, Lived and Living Experience Representative
  • Paul Johnston, Public Health Scotland


  • Acc David Dunca, Police Scotland
  • Nicholas Phin, Public Health Scotland
  • Valerie White, Public Health Scotland
  • Eddie Follan, COSLA
  • Professor Andrew McAuley, Glasgow Caledonian University 
  • Iain Smith, Keegan Smith Law
  • Mark O'Donnell, Scottish Recovery Consortium
  • Sarah Allen, WithYou
  • Billy Watson, SAMH
  • Sandra Holmes, Lived and Living Experience Representative
  • Richard Foggo, Scottish Government 

Also Attended

  • Tara Shivaji, Public Health Scotland
  • Joanne McEwan, Police Scotland
  • Graeme Callendar, WithYou
  • Orlando Heijmer-Mason, Scottish Government
  • Maggie Page, Scottish Government
  • Morris Fraser, Scottish Government
  • Alison Crocket, Scottish Government
  • Deanna Francis, Scottish Government


  • Emma Wright, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome and board governance

The chair welcomed members and attendees to the seventh meeting of the National Mission Oversight Group (NMOG). Apologies were noted.

The chair reiterated the purpose of the national mission is to save and improve lives through fast and appropriate access to treatment and support through all services. The NMOG role is to challenge, provide scrutiny, challenge, and advice to Scottish Government (SG).

The minute of the previous meeting on 21 September 2023 was formally approved. The summary minute for this meeting has been published on the website.

The actions and advice trackers were reviewed, there were six outstanding action points. These will be updated in due course.

SG update

OHM referenced the SG update paper and RAG status report (NMOG 07/23-03) which was provided in advance of the meeting, highlighting preference to discuss and take any questions and summarised content. The key areas included:

•    achievements since the last meeting
•    actions for the coming months
•    cross government update

The chair welcomed comments and discussion on the SG update.


Members stressed the importance of understanding what it means for drug misusers to be living in this space – this is a challenge for treatment services. A lot of services can hinder rather than help. Living with chaotic drug issues for a number of years shapes you and impacts you coming out the other side. There is a lot of coercion, threat and violence involved with this lifestyle which makes it hard for people to leave.

It is important to think of people who are not in services and be aware of how the budget announcement is interpreted locally and how to react to it. Need to consider what needs to happen once the announcements are made.

It was highlighted that pharmacists are not always aware of the current situations with nitazines and other drugs. Information on this needs to be spread as wide as possible to ensure minimal harm

Follow-up to international webinar on fentanyl

The chair reminded members of the NMOG that the three international experts were no longer attending the NMOG meeting but to ensure their continued engagement, had formed an NMOG sub group with himself and the minister. As part of this continued engagement, they  were asked to host a session for the NMOG and SG colleagues on their experiences with fentanyl. This session took place on 14 December 2023 and the slides from this were shared with members.

Members agreed that the session was useful in informing discussions for them in their own organisations to help result in more positive policy positions.

Deep dive – safer drug consumption facilities (SDCFs)

MF presented to the group on the latest update and next steps with regards to SDCFs. Key areas included:

•    the current position with SDCFs
•    how to roll SDCFs out further
•    how to support SDCF proposals

Deep dive discussion

The chair opened the floor for discussion on the deep dive in to SDCFs.


It was noted that a lot of what is being done is about remodelling the way people deliver services. No harm reduction measure would stand alone and it is key to ensure they link in to each other.

Edinburgh council is taking the lead to look at the efficiency of the work being done there. Aberdeen is starting to follow the same route. The SGs role is to support, facilitate and share the work of Glasgow to enable other places to go down this same path.

There was concern over facilities not being fit for women. The group agreed that there may need to be multiple models to support this.

Police Scotland’s role is to work closely with Glasgow and crown office to understand what this service means for police Scotland in an operational context. Police Scotland are eager to steer away from ‘policing approach’ language and are working hard in terms of developing in the harm prevention space and also engaging in the communities. Crown have been really clear that this is extremely narrow and curtails only to the possession offence. It was highlighted that it is important to remember that it is not about criminalising people for using the facility and it is about looking after their safety while using but also from the public.

The group are conscious that the public do not share enthusiasm for this work and that it is important to get the public’s acceptance to ensure safety of the staff and of the service users. Knowing that the police are behind the proposal will help with public approval. The key focus should always be on the people who are dying from drug use and getting them the help they need.

Any other business and close

The chair thanked attendees for coming to today’s meeting.

The chair reminded attendees that, should they have any items they would like to add to the agenda for future meetings, they should let the steering group know.

The next meeting is scheduled to take place on Thursday 21 March 2024 at 14:00 in St Andrew’s House, Edinburgh. The proposed focus will be on stigma and the delivery of the stigma action plan along with the national collaborative and the charter of rights

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