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Police Scotland to work with drug education charity

The Daniel Spargo-Mabbs Foundation was established by Tim and Fiona Spargo-Mabbs following the death of her 16 year old son Daniel after having taken ecstasy.

Police Scotland is set to work with a drugs charity as a way of underlining the impacts of drug use and raising awareness of diversion programmes to officers and partners. 

The Daniel Spargo-Mabbs Foundation provides a multi-competent programme available for schools based around educating young people. 

There are a team of drug educators who deliver workshops to students, as well as parents, training can be provided for teachers. 

A key element to the programme is a play that is based on Dan’s story who died after taking a lethal amount of MDMA at a party with his friends. 

While the play was originally performed in schools as a theatre education programme, recently it was professionally filmed. Last month, Police Scotland funded a showcasing which was attended by officers as well as a representative from Scotland’s Minister for Drugs Policy team. 

Now DCS Paul Livingstone, who facilitated the funding for the initial event under his divisional budget, is in the planning stages of organising further events specifically for police and policing partners. 

“We’re always looking for new and innovative ways to get young kids away from drugs,” he told Police Oracle. 

“When my DCI pitched it to me, I thought it sounded really beneficial. We invited the Scottish Drugs Policy Minister, those involved in education in Scotland - we were hoping that they realise this is a good product and grasp it. 

“The play is very very impactful and it’s very emotional - for a police officer, for a parent, for a member of the community, it hits all the right points.” 

One thing he is now looking at is holding further events for police and policing partners - from officers to heads of social work to Chief Officers who sit on child protection committees. 

He hopes other diversionary charities would also attend the events and be able to showcase the work they do as well - highlighting to officers the options that are available for diversionary schemes and programmes. 

“We’re really good at reacting to stuff,” DCS Livingstone continued. 

“But normally it’s too late by that time to do any prevention work. 

“We can go to the scene of a drug-related death and provide support agencies and information to bereaved families [...] but charities are keen to get in before that stage. 

“If we can get in earlier and divert those kids away from drugs, that’s going to hit the Serious Organised Crime groups as well, because they won’t have a customer base. The kids right now are their customers in the future. 

“That network and that face to face contact, you can build up some really good working relationships.” 

Police Oracle also spoke with Fiona Spargo-Mabbs who set up the Foundation along with her husband. 

“When Dan died, we just wanted to do everything we could to stop that sort of harm happening to anyone else’s child,” she told Police Oracle. 

“Dan’s friends told us that Dan hadn’t had any drug education, neither had they, and he was relying largely on them for advice about this stuff. 

“It was not necessarily a reflection on his school, but we realised there was a huge lack of resources available to schools that were good, easy to use and evidence-based.” 

“I think there is something about drama, it just gets your gets your head and it gets your heart. That then gives a context and relevance to the really important information that they will hopefully then be getting in their lessons or in our workshops or in conversations with their parents at home.”

Fiona Spargo-Mabbs chairs a National Working Group which focusses specifically on addressing the risks of young people being exposed to drugs on social media. Also on the board for that group is the NPCC drugs lead as well as public policy leads for SnapChat, Tik Tok and Instagram. 

“Scotland has always been in our sights because of the drug death data,” she added. 

“It’s very complex and multi-layered and no one thing is going to fix it, but education has to be part of any response to drug-related deaths. 

“Drug education is not going to fix everything for everyone, but everyone’s going to be in a better position with a certain level of understanding.” 

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