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Roll out of Naloxone by Police Scotland to officers is complete – it is for use in life-threatening overdose situations

By Ian Duncan

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Police Scotland.
Police Scotland.

Police Scotland’s rollout of Naloxone to officers in the Highland and Islands Division has been completed.

Nearly 600 pouches are being distributed to operational officers up to and including the rank of Inspector across Highland and Islands Division, who will be trained in the use of Naloxone and carry it as part of their on-duty kit.

Naloxone is an emergency first aid treatment for use in a potentially life-threatening overdose situation. It works by reversing the respiratory suppression caused by opioids/opiates and can buy the casualty critical minutes until ambulance clinicians arrive on scene.

Officers will undertake online training before receiving the kits. Police Scotland officers already undertake in-depth first aid training, and the carriage and administration of Naloxone is an extension of their first aid skills.

Training and issuing of kit across the country to all operational officers is expected to be completed early in 2023.

Chief Superintendent Conrad Trickett, Divisional Commander for Highlands and Islands, said: “The role of policing goes beyond law enforcement and preservation of life lies at the very core of our duties. Equipping officers in the Highlands and Islands with Naloxone supplements their existing extensive first aid training and helps them to fulfil that responsibility.

“Officers are often first on scene at incidents of overdose and the Naloxone nasal sprays give us the opportunity to buy someone critical time until professional medical help arrives.

"Drugs misuse can have a devastating effect on individuals, families and entire communities and I hope the carriage of Naloxone by our officers helps to saves lives and positively change attitudes."

Police Scotland piloted the carriage and use of Naloxone by its officers last year as part of a public health approach to addressing the country’s drug death rates.

Officers in four areas – Falkirk, Grangemouth & Stirling; Dundee City; Glasgow East, Caithness, and local custody suites – began carrying the single use intra-nasal sprays in March 2021.

Since then it has been used in at least 95 incidents by officers, with positive outcomes on all but four occasions. In three of the four incidents, officers suspected the individual was already deceased, however, they administered Naloxone to give the casualty every possible chance at recovery. In the fourth instance the individual did not regain consciousness and later died in hospital.

The circumstances leading to Naloxone administrations by police have been varied, and have included incidents where officers have discovered unconscious casualties during patrols, or being alerted to an overdose by a member of the public. Other incidents have involved people in police custody, during police Public Order incidents and the execution of a search warrant. Naloxone has also been administered to people intending to complete suicide.

Police Scotland’s work to introduce Naloxone as part of standard issue kit to its officers has been supported by the Scottish Government, as well as a range of key stakeholders.

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