Next Steps for New Psychoactive Substances Policy

This event will examine the impact of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 two years on from implementation, consider the progress so far and ways forward to tackle NPS (new psychoactive substances​) and reduce harm and risk. 

Despite the ban, NPS deaths are currently at their highest ever level

The Psychoactive Substances Act came into force in May 2016, banning the sale of NPS (so-called ‘legal highs’).

While the Act intended to reduce the prevalence of NPS, this has not been the case; drugs-deaths in Scotland are at an all-time high, and there has been a significant increase in the presence of NPS at time of death. So how can professionals across sectors work together to intervene and reduce NPS and associated harm?

Join us on the 26 June as we critically analyse the effects of the Psychoactive Substance Act two years on, look ahead to the Scottish Government’s upcoming Drugs Strategy and consider how to best meet the challenges of NPS use.

Confirmed speakers

  • Dr Iain McPhee, Senior Lecturer, University West of Scotland 
  • Professor Harry Sumnall, Professor of Substance Misuse, Liverpool John Moores University 
  • Emma Crawshaw, Manager, Crew 2000
  • Katy MacLeod, National Training and Development Officer, Scottish Drugs Forum 
  • Chris Bell, Trading Standards Officer, City of Edinburgh Council - Trading Standards
  • Andrew Horne, Chief Executive, Addaction
  • Dr Kieran Hamilton, University West of Scotland 
  • Dr Craig McKenzie, Senior Lecturer and Co-Director of the Forensic Drug Research Group, Centre for Anatomy & Human Identification, University of Dundee 

Key issues we’ll examine with you

  • Reflect on the Psychoactive Substances Act, its powers and impact across Scotland, and understanding the next steps
  • Receive an up-to-date brief on the latest trends in NPS use, supply and its effects
  • Explore examples of effective partnership working and information sharing in responding to the challenges posed by NPS
  • Look ahead to the future of NPS policy in the UK

Who should attend?

This event will be of benefit to those working to reduce harm and risk for those who are affected by drug-use, including:

  • Substance misuse services
  • Development officers; health and wellbeing, rehabilitation, community empowerment
  • Mentors; personal development, training and education
  • Police, criminal justice and prison service
  • Local authorities – housing, children’s services, health and social care and social work


09:30    Registration and Refreshments

09.55    Welcome and Introduction from Chair

  • The role of NPS in DRD's in Scotland 
  • Distribution and supply of NPS
  • Pharmacological action to benzodiazepines 

Dr Iain McPhee, Senior Lecturer, University West of Scotland

10.10    Session 1: Current Landscape and Priorities

10:10 Reflections on the Psychoactive Substances Act 2 Years On

  • What impact has the Psychoactive Substances Act had since its introduction in 2016
  • Can we tell if it was successful or not?
  • What challenges remain with NPS

​Professor Harry Sumnall, Professor of Substance Misuse, Liverpool John Moores University

10.30   Crew 2000 - NPS trends 

Emma Crawshaw, Manager, Crew 2000

10:50 New Trends? Old Challenges...

  • Populations who use NPS and the specific motivations, harms and consequences for them
  • NPS and drug related deaths in Scotland
  • Implications for NPS within The national drugs strategy refresh

Katy MacLeod, National Training & Development Officer, SDF

11:10    Questions and Discussion

11:25    Refreshments and Networking

11:50    Session 2: Understanding the Challenges of NPS

11.50   NPS: No-One Agency - A Partenrship Approach

Christopher Bell, Trading Standards Officer, City of Edinburgh Council - Trading Standards

12.10   Addactions NPS Survey Results

Andrew Horne, Chief Executive, Addaction

12.30    Questions and Discussion 

12:50    Lunch and Networking

13:30    Session 3: The Future of NPS Policy

We’ll bring together experts in the field to discuss the future of NPS policy in Scotland, and will look ahead to the upcoming Scottish Government Drugs and Alcohol Strategy. We will also discuss how we can work across sectors to tackle NPS use and reduce harm and risk for those involved. Discussion points may include:

13.30    Roundtable Discussion

Taking advantage of the learning from the morning, collective knowledge, experience and expertise in the room, delegates will lead the discussion by identifying the key issues, challenges and the short, medium and long-term solutions to the NPS misuse 

13.50    Online Communities and NPS use

  • Risk around NPS use is not inherent to specific substances, but related to the lack of experiential and harm reduction information.Current drug education efforts are being rejected by some young people and existing users
  • Online communities are viewed and utilised as a source of both NPS and harm reduction information
  • Online communities are risk aware and encourage users to incorporate harm reduction and individual responsibility to facilitate enjoyable and safe use
  • But paradoxically engagement with online communities exposes users to more NPS, and therefore more risk

Dr Kieran Hamiliton, Welfare Rights Advisor/Trustee, The Mungo Foundation

14.10   The informed and collaborative scientific response to NPS and emerging drug trends in Scotland

  • The need for multi-agency information sharing to improve monitoring and inform policy and research responses to current and emerging drug threats in Scotland and beyond.
  • Understanding the effects of legislative changes by monitoring Scotland’s drug seizure data: One method in an array
  • Horizon scanning and next steps

Dr Craig McKenzie, Forensic Drug Research Group, Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification, University of Dundee

14:30    Questions and Discussion

15:10    Closing Remarks from Chair

15:15   Close of Event

*Agenda subject to change


Scottish Arbitration Centre, 125 Princes Street, Edinburgh EH2 4AD | Map


Delegate rates (excluding VAT):
Reduced rate: 1 place £145 + VAT (Voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income of less than £1m)
Standard rate: 1 place £245 + VAT | 2+ places £195 + VAT per place (Central government departments and agencies, local authorities, universities, colleges, NHS, police, housing associations, professional associations and voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income over £1m)
Private Sector rate: 1 place £295 + VAT | 2+ places £245 + VAT per place (Commercial organisations e.g. plc, Ltd, LLP)
For all event enquiries please email or call 0131 285 1635
26 June 2018



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