Edinburgh taxi drivers will soon be equipped with Naloxone in an effort to prevent drug overdoses in Scotland

The move has been welcomed as life-saving by drug policy minister Angela Constance. 

A total of 36 drivers with Central Taxis, the largest cab operator in the capital, have already agree to carry out the necessary training to administer the drug, enabling them to carry it in their vehicles.

However, they are not the first to start carrying the drug, with a number of Glasgow drivers taking the step earlier this year. 

In February, Glasgow Taxis chairman Dougie MacPherson said: "On a personal level, during the 1980s - before entering the taxi trade - I worked in the north of Glasgow in some of the city’s worst affected areas like Possilpark.

“Heroin and HIV destroyed a generation back then and it left an indelible impression on those who experienced it including me.

“The current drug death figures serve as a stark reminder that the problem has not gone away and any way of reducing the number of deaths is worth supporting.”

Police officers, the ambulance service and members of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service also already carry naloxone.

Julie McCartney, the Scottish Ambulance Service’s drug harm reduction lead for the east of Scotland region, said the service was “delighted to be working with Edinburgh Central Taxis and our local partners, to raise public awareness of the importance of being able to identify an overdose, administer naloxone and call 999 for an ambulance”.

She stated: “This forms part of a wider catalogue of work by the Scottish Ambulance Service to maximise every opportunity to support those who use drugs to access treatment and support direct from the scene of an emergency.”

And Murray Fleming, company secretary, at Central Taxis, said: “This is a great campaign. Our drivers are out and about 24 hours a day and are very much the eyes and the ears of the city.

“We’ve had a terrific initial response from drivers registering to complete the training, carry naloxone and play their part in the Stop The Deaths initiative.

“We already provide a back-up service for the NHS and ambulance service in Edinburgh and see ourselves as very much the fourth emergency service.”

Ms Constance said: “I welcome this joint initiative by Scottish Ambulance Service and Edinburgh taxi drivers which will result in more lives being saved through the use of the emergency treatment naloxone.”

She added: “The response to the Stop The Deaths campaign by the Scottish Drugs Forum and Scottish Government earlier this year has been very encouraging and in addition to saving lives, we hope it has helped reduce the stigmatisation of people at risk of overdose and those with a problematic drug use more broadly.

“Naloxone is one of a wide range of measures being used to address the public health emergency of drugs deaths, but it plays an important role and I hope people will continue to visit the Stop The Deaths website to find out more.”