RISING drugs deaths represent a public emergency a Scottish Government minister said as the death toll in Glasgow is set to top 200 a year.

Joe Fitzpatrick, public health minister spoke at Westminster Scottish Affairs Committee on problem drug use.

He said the law needs to be changed to allow a different approach to be followed as the problem is far worse in Scotland that the rest of the UK.

Mr Fitzpatrick said: “We need action now. People are dying in Scotland. We have an emergency and we want to act now.

“The level of deaths in Scotland is higher than any other country in the world.”

Drug-related deaths in Glasgow for 2017 were at an all-time recorded high of 192, and 934 across Scotland.

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Mr Fitzpatrick said it could be as high as 1,200 in Scotland when new figures are revealed next week, and the Glasgow figures are expected to be above 200.

The minister said Scotland wanted to take a public health approach to tackle problem drug use and not a criminal justice approach.

He said to do that he is looking for the UK Government to meet to discuss what action can be taken and would like to see drug laws devolved to the Scottish Parliament.”

However, he said that since 2017 the Home Office has “resisted dialogue in any detail”.

The minister said: “When you speak to those affected and people who have lost loved ones, this is a public emergency.

“All evidence we have seen is pointing to that public health approach as a matter of urgency.”

Earlier Lord Advocate, James Wolffe QC, said for a drug consumption facility to open in Glasgow it would need a change in the law.

He said devolution of powers would make no difference to his guidance unless the law was changed.

Mr Wolffe said there are many offences that people would be potentially committing under criminal law, common law and civil law.

When asked if the police could be given guidance to “turn a blind eye” to such offences around a safe drug consumption room he said: “That would not be an appropriate approach.”

He also said: “For a facility to operate effectively you need a legislative framework.”