The news no parent wants to hear

Sad girl on a swing

Yesterday I attended a Drug Education Showcase Event in the Scottish Police College at Tulliallan. There was a packed agenda with several high profile speakers and a filmed performance of a play. The event had been brought together by the Daniel Spargo-Mabbs Foundation, Police Scotland and Tie it Up Theatre working in partnership.

The event was opened by Sir Iain Livingstone – Chief Constable of Police Scotland who spoke passionately about the fact that the role of Police Scotland is not just important in relation to criminal activity, but in relation to their stated purpose – to improve the safety and wellbeing of people, places and communities in Scotland. They are, Sir Iain believes, the only Police Force in the world who have the wellbeing of people as part of their stated purpose. He also underlined the fact that Police Scotland rely on many partners to work together with them to ensure that they keep people safe.

Jenny Gilruth – Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, spoke about her experiences of hearing about the harrowing case of Leah Betts while she was a schoolgirl in Fife, when Leah’s father visited her secondary school in the late 1990s, to talk about the senseless death of his daughter. The Cabinet Secretary then went on to outline her commitment to quality in relation to drug education within schools today.

There were several other speakers, each with a unique insight into their specific area of expertise in relation to Scottish issues relating to alcohol and drug use and Scotlands drug death crisis.

The most impactful part of the programme though, was undoubtably the Tie It Up Theatre filmed performance of the “I Love You, Mum – I Promise I Won’t Die’ by Mark Wheeler. This piece told the moving true story of a boy named ‘Daniel Spargo-Mabbs’ who died of a drugs overdose aged 16. Daniel’s story is told from the perspective of his family and friends. Parts of the play were very hard to watch and when Daniel’s Mother – Fiona Spargo-Mabbs provided the closing words for the event, these resonated throughout the audience. In particular, the fact that Daniel’s death had been so entirely preventable. As a result of Daniel’s death, Fiona set up the DSM Foundation – a drugs education charity, as a way of making some sort of good come out of the ‘very bad thing’ that had happened to Daniel. The DSM Foundation are planning some further work in Scotland and further information about them can be found on their website: