A taskforce set up to tackle Scotland's growing number of drug deaths is set to meet for the first time.

The government-led Drugs Death Taskforce, set up after figures revealed the number of deaths had soared to a record 1,187 in 2017, will hold its first meeting in Edinburgh on Tuesday.

It will be hosted by Scotland's public health minister Joe FitzPatrick, who has said "radical steps" are needed to address the "emergency".

Professor Catriona Matheson will chair the meeting.

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Mr FitzPatrick set up the expert group to examine the factors behind the deaths and advise on action - despite drugs policy being reserved to Westminster.

He said: "The UK government must recognise what Scotland faces in drug deaths is also an emergency.

"It holds the power to decide if a safe consumption facility can get the legal go-ahead, and so far they have rejected it out of hand.

"If the UK government continues to refuse the act, we call on it to pass powers to the Scottish Parliament so we can do what is necessary."

Prof Matheson, of the University of Stirling, previously told BBC Scotland the evidence for decriminalisation was strong.

She said a "non-judgemental approach" was needed to tackle drug misuse and there was strong evidence for decriminalisation.

READ MORE: Drug death rate in Scotland at record high 

The professor, who is a trustee of the Society for the Study of Addiction and convener of the Drugs Research Network Scotland, added: "Although previous drug strategies were well-meaning, sometimes they have been based on a criminal justice-type basis.

"What is very welcome is that now we have a new strategy that takes a public health and human rights approach and that is what we need."