Pilot approved for Falkirk police to use overdose reversal drug

Police Scotland has approved a pilot for officers in Falkirk to opt to carry intranasal medication to reverse opioid overdoses.

By Jonathon Reilly
Wednesday, 18th November 2020, 2:53 pm

The ‘test of change’ project will train police to use Naloxone, an emergency antidote to overdoses as a result of heroin – or other opioid/opiate – use, which reverses the suppression of the respiratory system.

Officers in Dundee and Glasgow East will also be part of the six-month pilot, which will begin in early 2021, following a meeting of Police Scotland’s Strategic Leadership Board.

The medication provides additional time for the ambulance service to arrive on scene.

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Police Scotland officers in Falkirk will be able to opt to carry an overdose reversal drug next year. Picture: John Devlin.

The test of change has been initiated in response to ongoing year-on-year increases in drug-related deaths in Scotland, with the country recording the highest levels per capita globally.

Figures from the National Records of Scotland indicate opiates/opioids were implicated, or a potential contributory factor, in 86 per cent of drug-related deaths in 2018.

Carriage of Naloxone will be voluntary, however, all frontline officers of the rank of Police Constable, Sergeant and Inspector within these areas will be required to undertake a training and education session.

It is estimated around 700 officers will be trained to potentially participate in the pilot.

Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie, head of drug strategy for Police Scotland, said: “There has been a great deal of careful consideration given as to whether our officers should carry Naloxone as an additional piece of equipment and consultation has taken place with a range of partners through the Naloxone Delivery Steering Group.

“In doing so, it is hoped the test-bed areas will show the value of our officers carrying this treatment as an extension to the existing extensive first aid training already provided by the organisation.

“We are committed to being proactive in our approach to tackling problem drug use in our communities through harm reduction, as well as dispelling myths while upholding our ethos of keeping people safe in our local areas.

“This is one of the most significant test of change projects in modern policing in Scotland, and could have a significant impact on the communities we serve.

“A full evidence-based evaluation of the test of change will be produced to inform any future decision whether Naloxone is rolled out to all officers.”

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