AN inquiry into rising drug deaths in Scotland has been launched by a committee of MPs.

The Scottish Affairs Committee is to investigate why there is a higher drug death toll in Scotland than the rest of the UK and whether the Scottish Parliament has enough power to tackle the problem.

Last year in Glasgow there were 170 drug deaths mostly involving more than one substance and including opiates like heroin and methadone.

The MPs have asked for evidence from organisations and individuals on a range of questions, including identifying the unique drivers of drug use in Scotland and the link between poverty and drugs.

And in January this year the Evening Times revealed that as many as three people a week are dying from taking “street blues” sold as diazepam but are actually much more potent.

The committee wants to look at how effectively both the Scottish and UK governments work together to tackle drug abuse.

Last year the UK Home Office refused to amend drug laws to allow health and council bosses in Glasgow to open a safe drugs consumption room where addicts could bring heroin and inject it in supervised conditions.

The model used in other countries has proven to reduce the risk of overdose and minimise the impact on communities from outdoor drug taking.

The Scottish Government has backed the call for the facility but the Home Office and the Prime Minister have stated the law will not be changed.

Pete Wishart, chair of the committee, said: “Scotland’s drug problem is widely known, but the drivers behind it and the reality of drugs users’ day to day lives remain largely hidden.

“The UK Government, which is responsible for drug legislation, cannot turn a blind eye to the escalating drug problem in Scotland.

“My Committee’s inquiry will uncover the truth behind drug misuse in Scotland; why drug-related deaths are on the rise, and how the UK and Scottish Government should work together to combat this worrying trend.”

The committee will also look at how the drugs market in Scotland is changing and how effective are current regulations to meet the challenges of new trends, like the “dark web”.