Human rights expert heads group giving voice to those with “lived experience” of drugs


Scotland’s leading human rights expert believes we are on the edge of a major breakthrough in the way we treat our drugs crisis.

Professor Alan Miller has been appointed as head of a National Collaborative, designed to represent those with Lived and Living Experience (LLE) of drugs.

The academic, who has been leading work on a wide ranging human rights bill for Scotland, has pledged to ensure the voices of those with experience of addiction and recovery are amplified in coming months.

He has also promised to make sure the voices will shape a framework where problem drug users will be given the right to proper treatment for their health issues and proper homes.

Professor Miller said: “I have been given two main remits, the first being to amplify the voices of those with lived experience of drugs.

“But I am also determined to anchor their human rights in a meaningful, practical way within the Scottish legal framework.

“I am interested in real change and real improvements to people’s lives and I really believe that is achievable.

“I think we are very close to finding a turning point in enshrining the rights of people who take drugs in Scottish society.

“This is more than just making their voices heard. It’s about making sure they get the decent homes they are entitled to and the treatment they are entitled to in law. We will also see far greater accountability when rights are denied.

He added: “In Scotland the drugs crisis is being seen as a public health issue but we can also view it just as much as a human rights issue and that can bring some big advantages.”

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The new National Collaborative to ensure the views of people with Lived and Living Experience (LLE) are reflected in all aspects of the national mission on drug deaths.

The National Collaborative, whose membership will be formed in coming weeks, will make recommendations to the Scottish Government about changes to services which could save lives.

A separate Right to Recovery Bill, proposed by the Scottish Tories, is currently at the consultation stage at the Scottish parliament.

Drugs policy minister Angela Constance was recently criticized for failing to place LLE people at the top table of the Scottish Drug Deaths Taskforce after his chair and vice chair walked out in protest at demands that they speed up their work.

She said: “Delivering on such an important strand of the national mission requires someone with a successful track record on delivering change on behalf of these groups of people and Professor Miller has been a leading voice in human rights through his work as Independent Co-Chair of the National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership and now on the Human Rights Bill Advisory Board.”

Former drug addict Dave Kelly, now a Team Leader at the charity Change, Grow, Live, met the minister and Professor Miller at the Blackburn Recovery Café, one of the community activities the service runs in West Lothian.

He said: “I have accessed services in the past I know how hard it can be. I now manage a service and will always try to make things easier for those seeking support.

Dave Kelly, Team Leader West Lothian Services, who has lived experience of drug addiction

“I know that each person has to find the treatment which works for them, and I believe that everyone who has been through this can offer valuable insight to something like the National Collaborative and help them provide recommendations for shaping services which respond better to the needs. of the people asking for help.”

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Professor Miller is Professor of Practice in Human Rights Law at the Law School, University of Strathclyde.

He was the inaugural Chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission between 2008 – 2016.

He was also a UN Special Envoy between 2016 -19 and he currently serves as an Independent Expert with its Crisis Bureau. Scotland’s drug deaths are the worst in Europe by thousands and 1,339 Scots died from overdoses last year.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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