Holyrood conference launches 'Futures Forum' study into alcohol and drugs in Scotland


A major Holyrood conference on alcohol and drug use in Scotland will mark the launch of a new, year-long study on the subject by Holyrood’s think-tank, Scotland’s Futures Forum.

The one-day conference takes place on Monday 15 January at Holyrood, and sets the stage for a new investigation, which seeks to establish a fresh political perspective on Scotland ’s approach to alcohol and drugs.

The Futures Forum’s latest study is set against a backdrop of current estimates which suggest that there are more than 100,000 children in Scotland affected by parental alcohol use and nearly 60,000 by parental drug use (source: Scottish Executive, May 2006).

Overall themes for the Forum will include education and prevention, regulation and prohibition, improving treatment options, key policy drivers addressing substance use problems and children and young people’s future.

More than 250 experts, including senior police figures, leading academics and health experts will attend Monday’s conference, which is hosted by Scotland’s Futures Forum together with the Scottish Association of Alcohol and Drug Actions Teams.

Entitled ‘Over the horizon: fresh perspectives on alcohol and drugs’, the conference will feature the following three keynote speakers addressing assembled delegates in Holyrood’s debating chamber:

  • Professor Tony King, Chair of the RSA Commission on Illegal Drugs, Communities and Public Policy, and Professor of Government at Essex University;
  • Tom Wood, Chair, Scottish Association of Alcohol and Drug Action Teams;
  • Rev John Miller, Castlemilk East Parish Church.

The morning session closes with a Q&A session then moves into smaller discussion groups to focus on issues including the role of communities, improving treatment options and children and young people.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Scottish Parliament Presiding Officer George Reid, who chairs Scotland’s Future Forum, said:

"One week after Scotland ’s Futures Forum published its groundbreaking report on ageing, we now move on to the next year-long investigation into alcohol and drugs use.

"Through the Futures Forum, we are developing long-term strategic thinking on the issues which Scotland will face in the future. We are engaging with those we represent and those who know the challenges and opportunities that will arise.”

Tom Wood, Chair, Scottish Association of Alcohol and Drug Action Teams added:

"The Forum is a unique opportunity to address some major challenges facing Scotland, for example, creating a future for our children safer from the devastating effects of alcohol and drugs misuse."

The participation on Monday of members of the Royal Society of Arts Commission on Illegal Drugs comes ahead of the publication of its two-year study due on 8 March 2007. It is expected that knowledge and experience gained from its study will help inform Monday’s proceedings.   

Susan Deacon MSP, a member of the UK-wide RSA Commission on Illegal Drugs, Communities and Public Policy, said:

"There is a pressing need for a more open and informed debate on drug and alcohol use in our society. I am delighted the Scottish Parliament Futures Forum is taking forward this major project. I hope that work such as this, and the forthcoming RSA Commission report, will help to stimulate fresh thinking on this important and challenging issue."

The conference begins in Holyrood’s debating chamber at 10.30am on Monday 15 January. Media are welcome to attend. Media who require parliamentary accreditation for the day should contact the Parliament’s Media Relations Office in advance on 0131 348 6852.

Background notes

Scotland’s Futures Forum was created by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body in August 2005. The forum aims to identify key challenges facing the nation and stimulate debate between MSPs, academics, civic society, wealth creators and international organisations on the ways of meeting them.

For more information on Scotland’s Futures Forum go to:



9.30 - 10.30 am: Coffee and registration

10.30 - 10.35 am: Plenary session in the Chamber, Scottish Parliament. Welcome and introduction from Facilitator

10.35 - 11.00 am: Prof Tony King, Chair, RSA Commission and Professor of Government at Essex University

11.00 - 11.15 am: Q & A

11.15 - 11.30 am: Rev John Miller, Castlemilk East Parish Church

11.30 - 11.45 am: Tom Wood, Chair, The Scottish Association of Alcohol and Drug Action Teams

11.45 - 12.00 pm: Q & A

12.00 - 1.00 pm: Lunch ( Sandwich buffet lunches will be served)

1.00 - 2.45 pm: Conversation cafes within Committee rooms

2.45 - 3.00 pm: Return to Chamber for Plenary session

3.00 - 3.45 pm: Final Plenary session

3.45 pm: Close

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