A Plaid Cymru Member of the Senedd has renewed calls for the criminal justice system to be devolved after an increase in drugs deaths.
Peredur Owen Griffiths MS was reacting to figures from the Office for National Statistics that showed 210 deaths were recorded in Wales in 2021. Compared to the 149 deaths recorded in 2020, this represented a 41% increase.
The figures for 2021 are the highest since records began nearly 30 years ago.
Peredur, who represents the South Wales East region, said: “This is a shocking and distressing increase in the number of drugs deaths in Wales. Each one of these deaths is a tragedy for friends and family of the deceased.
“This was brought home in a recent meeting of the Senedd Cross Party Group on Substance Misuse and Addiction that I established with drugs charity Kaleidoscope. At our last meeting, there was a visual display of flowers – assembled by the charity Transform – to represent each drugs death in the UK over the last year.
“It made for a powerful and distressing display.
“In its totality, it also shows that the status quo on drugs policy is not working and is failing our people and our communities.”
Peredur added: “We may approach the treatment of drug addiction differently in Wales with more of an emphasis on harm reduction but the criminal law of England still applies to Wales.
“It is vital that the criminal justice system is devolved so that we can develop a more compassionate and more evidence-based drugs policy that seeks to get users effective treatment and protects our communities.
“Without the devolution of the criminal justice system and a major shift in our approach to tackling drugs, I fear that deaths will increase further in the coming years.”
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