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National trial of Naloxone in Scotland is saving lives, says force

Police Scotland officers have administered Naloxone 37 times in the four months since a national pilot project began. Now 648 officers are carrying the nasal spray.

Nearly 800 officers from the force have completed training since March 2021, with 81 per cent choosing to carry the kits during the trial period, which reverse the effect of an opiod-overdose. 

Naloxone has so far been used in all four test-bed areas - 18 incidents in Tayside Division (Dundee City sub-division), 15 in Greater Glasgow Division (Glasgow East sub-division), three in Forth Valley Division (Falkirk, Grangemouth and Stirling areas) and once in Highland & Islands Division (Caithness sub-division).

Situations where officers have administered Naloxone include attending concern for person calls including attempted suicide, people in custody, and during a siege situation when officers had to force entry to a property.

Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie, Head of Drug Strategy, said: “While our test of change has some way to go, on International Overdose Awareness Day it is poignant to reflect on the impact our officers carrying Naloxone have potentially had on people across Scotland.

“In these 37 incidents where officers have stepped forward to make what is probably a life-saving difference, they have either been flagged down by a member of the public or come across someone in crisis in the course of their duties. Had these officers not been carrying Naloxone, the people experiencing a suspected overdose may not have survived.

“We know this isn’t a one-step solution to Scotland’s drug deaths crisis, but we hope it will be part of the bigger, public health-led response. We’ve worked closely with partners, including the Scottish Government Drug Deaths Taskforce, Scottish Drugs Forum, the NHS, Scottish Ambulance Service, and others, to get to this point.

"Our collaborative approach to addressing drug deaths will continue, and I look forward to monitoring the progress of this pilot as it runs its course.”

Training for Police Constables, Sergeant and Inspectors within the test bed areas was mandatory but carrying the kits in pouches on their utility belts is voluntary. 

A number of special constables have also voluntarily attended training and are carrying the kits.

ACC Ritchie told Police Oracle earlier this year when the rollout began there was no potential for prosecution or PIRC inquiry for officers using Naloxone, despite the Federation’s warning.

Sergeant Graeme Fox is one of the officers who carries Naloxone, and has used it in the course of his duties. He said: “I chose to Naloxone on my belt because I’d much rather save someone’s life than deliver a sudden death message.”

Police Scotland’s test of change will be independently evaluated by a team from Edinburgh Napier and Glasgow Caledonian Universities. The evaluation will look at attitudes of both police officers and communities, as well as the volume of use of Naloxone, and will involve feedback sessions for officers, stakeholders and people with lived experience.

The team will look at whether the test of change has had an impact on the stigma people who experience drug addiction may feel, and whether these communities have changed their perception of the police as a result of the carriage of Naloxone. 

The findings of the evaluation will be used to make a recommendation as to whether Naloxone should be more widely rolled out to officers in Scotland.

Similiar trials are ongoing in West Midlands, Cambridgeshire, Durham, North Wales and Cleveland Police. 

Earlier this month the government announced an eight week consultation on making Naloxone more widely available to frontline staff, including police officers. 

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