Paul Wheelhouse MSP

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Paul Wheelhouse MSP

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  • Member for: South Scotland
  • Party: Scottish National Party

Paul is a member of the following Committees:

Paul is a member of the following Cross-Party Groups:

Parliamentary Activities

Search for other Speeches made by Paul Wheelhouse

Meeting of the Parliament 26 February 2015 : Thursday, February 26, 2015
Paul Wheelhouse

That is probably true. We must deal with the immediate impacts on individuals, but in the longer term, given the number of such products that are coming on to the market, we must educate people—young people, in particular—about the risks that they face in using them. We know that many people who attend clubs are being presented with NPS as a so-called soft option or legal high. They might not be aware that that does not imply that the products in question are properly regulated or safe. The fact that they are professionally packaged leads people to think that they are safer than they are. In truth, when people take them, they cannot be guaranteed that they will get the same experience with one packet that they will get with another. In addition, new psychoactive substances have sometimes been cut with illicit drugs, so people might be taking something that is extremely powerful and which might do them enormous damage.

We must educate people and ensure that they do not use an NPS product without having a good grounding in the risks that they face. In that way, we might be able to deter people from using such products.



Meeting of the Parliament 26 February 2015 : Thursday, February 26, 2015
Paul Wheelhouse

The website has been effective in that it has reached a large number of individuals. Know the score is a good source of information, which can be read by individuals at their leisure. There are no anonymity issues—people can learn about the challenges in their own time in their own space.

We have had some evidence of Facebook being used to promote the use of know the score. The campaign that was launched last year generated 11,000 clicks, with 5,000 additional people visiting the website over the month for which the adverts ran. We can do more to ensure that people are aware of where the information is and how they can access it. I know that agencies such as Crew and the local alcohol and drug partnerships make sure that local residents are aware that know the score is a valuable resource.

The know the score website is only one part of the picture. Another important part of what we propose to do is to use information on the internet, through glow, to educate children.



Meeting of the Parliament 26 February 2015 : Thursday, February 26, 2015
Paul Wheelhouse

We will take an interest in what is happening in Lincoln. The situation there is not directly comparable with the one in Scotland, but we will study the implications of the measure that is being taken, which, as we understand it, will deal with activity in a public space but will not necessarily prevent the sale of such substances. Therefore, it will have only a limited impact.

I recognise the important role that local authorities have to play in discharging their functions on licensing, planning and trading standards. It is clear that they are important players in this area. Angus Council and South Ayrshire Council have worked constructively to help tackle the problem at local level. We want to ensure that all local authorities are aware of what is possible and what toolkits are available to them. One of the key recommendations in the report is that a toolkit should be developed for trading standards officers so that they know what powers they have and how they can deploy them most effectively, learning from the good practice in Angus and South Ayrshire. The more we can do to help local authorities to tackle problems at a local level, the better. I welcome Rhoda Grant’s comments, and I am keen to ensure that such help is provided.



Meeting of the Parliament 26 February 2015 : Thursday, February 26, 2015
Paul Wheelhouse

The points that Mark McDonald makes are extremely important. The work that Crew does is a good example. It has offices in Edinburgh, but it is a nationally commissioned organisation that can provide support across the country. Crew works with parents, who will often come in to get confidential advice about substances that they know that their children are taking, to find out about the risks and to support their children in coming off those substances.

As far as adult users are concerned, we are seeing an increasing number of experienced drug users diverting into the use of NPS, which are sometimes cheaper and more freely available than the equivalent. There is a danger of their getting back into a culture of using drugs intravenously and therefore putting themselves at risk of contracting blood-borne diseases, developing ulcers and even of having to undergo amputation. There are serious consequences associated with injecting drugs intravenously, so we need to make sure that people are equipped with the knowledge to keep them safe. If people are to use such substances, we need to do the maximum to prevent them from putting themselves at risk.



Meeting of the Parliament 26 February 2015 : Thursday, February 26, 2015
Paul Wheelhouse

I am aware that a similar approach was taken in South Ayrshire some years before, but it would be fair to say that Angus has demonstrated a much more co-ordinated, wide-scale approach to tackling the problem at a community level and there has been a strong community impetus behind that. It is a more recent example and took place in the light of emerging trends of a higher incidence of NPS use and greater availability of the products.

What was done in Angus is certainly welcome and we are interested in it but, to be able to use the common law on careless and reckless behaviour, we have to be able to demonstrate harm. That is why it is important to have the forensic capability and co-ordination with our health professionals to understand the physical, emotional and psychological impacts of the substances on individuals to demonstrate harm. The law is much easier to enforce once we have a clear idea of the harms of each product.



Meeting of the Parliament 26 February 2015 : Thursday, February 26, 2015
Paul Wheelhouse

Dr Simpson makes a useful point. I agree with him that there is great concern that the perception of the products as legal highs is entirely misplaced. They are legal if they are not used for human consumption but many of them are clearly very dangerous if they are used for human consumption. We know that some of the substances that mimic existing illicit drugs are eight or more times as powerful as the equivalent, so people might take a similar quantity and be taken by the strength of the dose, which might have fatal consequences.

We all have an interest in making sure that labelling is clear to ensure that people do not consume the substances at all. I take on board the point that Dr Simpson makes and will discuss it in the ministerial cross-party group.



Meeting of the Parliament 26 February 2015 : Thursday, February 26, 2015
Paul Wheelhouse

The expert legal group considered alternative models from places such as New Zealand, where licensing has been introduced. Although there are some strengths to that approach, there are also concerns about it and the group did not deem it to be the most appropriate solution.

However, I recognise the point that Kevin Stewart makes about the concerns that communities have about the prevalence of head shops in their high streets. That is why the action that was taken in Angus to tackle the issue was so positive. That was done through trading standards officers, Police Scotland and the local council working together to identify how they could use the common law on careless and reckless behaviour to identify where the irresponsible sale of NPS put at risk young people and others in the community.

Successful action has been taken in that community, led by community groups that forced the issue home and put their own pressure on the suppliers. It has had the benefit of shutting down those shops.



Meeting of the Parliament 26 February 2015 : Thursday, February 26, 2015
Paul Wheelhouse

We are interested in data collection and new means of collecting data. The group that I met yesterday in Edinburgh was looking at the issue. We could use existing data, but are there other forms of data that we could deploy? Are there existing information systems that could, if adapted, capture more useful information on the granularity of drug misuse and therefore, within that, NPS use?

I assure the member that we are looking at that. It is important to take an evidence-based approach to policy development at any point in time. At the moment, we lack a comprehensive picture.

Some differences of opinion are emerging. The statutory sector perhaps sees a different message emerging about intravenous drug use, while in the third sector, people are saying that, increasingly, a new group of people is using intravenous drugs. We have some conflicts in the data and we need to bring them together, understand them and get a comprehensive picture so that we know where the problems are, the prevalence rates and indeed the particular drugs are being used.



Meeting of the Parliament 26 February 2015 : Thursday, February 26, 2015
Paul Wheelhouse

I appreciate that it is early days, but the issue of NPS use has been discussed in the past in the European justice and home affairs council and is potentially an agenda item in the near future. That may be a forum in which we can engage with other Governments to discuss a co-ordinated approach throughout the European Union to tackle the problem of internet sales.

For those who wish to use the internet sales route, there are some challenges. I have heard that, in Angus, NPS is predominantly being used by young unemployed males, who may not have access to credit cards or other means of buying NPS via the internet. However, there is a risk that someone else could do so and sell on to those individuals.

We need to have a sophisticated approach to the issue. There is no single silver bullet, which is why it is useful to take on board the ideas of all other parties in the chamber and to work together to come up with a co-ordinated solution.



Meeting of the Parliament 26 February 2015 : Thursday, February 26, 2015
Paul Wheelhouse

Like all parts of the public services, we are under pressure at the moment due to funding constraints. However, we will work closely with Police Scotland and forensic services to identify what is possible within existing resources. Where necessary, if additional resources are required, we will take that on board.

It is early days, though. The report has just been produced, we are signalling that we accept the point that has been made by the expert legal group and we look forward to working up the detail. That is something that we can discuss within the group that I have suggested today.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12423.1 Alex Rowley: Commission on Local Tax Reform—As an amendment to motion S4M-12423 in the n
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YesCarried

S4M-12423 Marco Biagi: Commission on Local Tax Reform—That the Parliament supports the establishment
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YesCarried

S4M-12385 Liz Smith: STEM Education in Scottish Schools—That the Parliament agrees that a solid grou
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12395.1 Fergus Ewing: An Energy Strategy for Scotland—As an amendment to motion S4M-12395 in the
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12395.2 Patrick Harvie: An Energy Strategy for Scotland—As an amendment to motion S4M-12395 in t
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12395 Murdo Fraser: An Energy Strategy for Scotland—That the Parliament notes with concern the l
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YesCarried

S4M-12385.3 Alasdair Allan: STEM Education in Scottish Schools—As an amendment to motion S4M-12385 i
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-12382.3 Mary Fee: Building Scotland’s Infrastructure for the Future—As an amendment to motion S4
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12382.1 Gavin Brown: Building Scotland’s Infrastructure for the Future—As an amendment to motion
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-12382.2 Willie Rennie: Building Scotland’s Infrastructure for the Future—As an amendment to moti
>> Show more
NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Paul Wheelhouse
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-12361: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/02/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11509: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/11/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11029: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 29/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10972: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/09/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09916: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/05/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09294.3: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 11/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09280: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/03/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08517: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/12/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-07106: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 20/06/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-06845.2: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 04/06/2013 Show Full Motion >>
This Member currently holds a ministerial post. First Minister and Ministers cannot ask the Government questions which is why no recent questions are displaying here. Please use the full search to find details of previous questions by this Member.
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-09164: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/08/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-01238: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 27/06/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-01063: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/05/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-07135: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/05/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-07133: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/05/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-07134: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/05/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-01044: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 09/05/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-07085: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 08/05/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-07045: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/05/2012 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-07043: Paul Wheelhouse, South Scotland, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 02/05/2012 Show Full Question >>

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