UK's first drug consumption room enabling supervised injections gets green-light in Glasgow
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The UK's first drug consumption room has been given the green-light to open in Glasgow's east-end.
The facility, costing £2.3million, will offer a hygienic and supervised environment for users to take their own illegal drugs. It comes after years of struggle between the Scottish and UK governments on the issue.
It was first proposed to be built in the east-end of Glasgow in 2016 following a HIV outbreak in the city. Earlier in September, Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC said that it would not be "in the public interest" to prosecute those who use the facility.
The Glasgow City Integration Joint Board, made up of NHS and council officials, approved the plans on Wednesday morning.
The report stated: “There is overwhelming international evidence which demonstrates that safer drug consumption facilities can improve the health, wellbeing and recovery of people who use the facility and reduce the negative impact that public injecting has on local communities and businesses.”
The board found that following the HIV outbreak in 2016, an assessment of the situation “found there are approximately 400 to 500 people injecting drugs in public places in Glasgow city centre on a regular basis”.
It added: “Injecting in public spaces increases the risk of infection and other drug related harms, and also causes a risk to the public from discarded injecting equipment and needles.”
Scotland’s drug and alcohol policy minister Elena Whitham has welcomed the approval, stating that the government has pledged a yearly budget of £2,347,000 from April 2024/25 to the operation of the room.
She added: “We know this is not a silver bullet. But we know from evidence from more than 100 facilities worldwide that safer drug consumption facilities work.
“It is time to see this approach piloted in Scotland and while the service would still be limited to some extent, due to the Misuse of Drugs Act reserved to Westminster, we are confident it would save lives. It’s vital this pilot has the full confidence of the general public as well as those who use the facility, and the leadership of Glasgow and Police Scotland will help ensure it is introduced as quickly as possible.”
Westminster had previously been against the installation of drug consumption rooms, with Home Office minister Chris Philp stating that there is concern that they "condone or even encourage" illegal drug use. However, last month the Home Affairs Committee recommended the pilot of safe consumption rooms in areas where it is deemed needed in the UK.
Mr Philp added that his department is “not going to stand in the way” of Scotland's decision to introduce the rooms.