New attempt to introduce drug consumption rooms
A fresh attempt to establish drug consumption rooms in Scotland contrary to the wishes of the Home Office has been launched.
Campaigners are calling for the rooms to be introduced to stem the tide of drug deaths.
The Scottish government supports the use of the rooms but a previous attempt to bring them in failed after it was blocked by the UK government, which controls drug policy.
Labour MSP Paul Sweeney has now launched a consultation on the Drug Death Prevention Bill, under which Holyrood would vote on introducing overdose prevention centres (OPCs).
Scotland has had year-on-year record numbers of fatal overdoses since 2015 and has among the worst drug death rates in Europe.
Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain QC told Holyrood’s Justice Committee last year that she would listen to “a very well set out proposal” for OPCs.
She said: “Then in terms of the undoubted crisis that we face in relation to the number of drugs deaths in Scotland, if it is in the public interest that there should be no prosecutions for those using drug consumption facilities with all these safeguards that require to be in place, then that would require a fresh consideration by me as Lord Advocate.”
Mr Sweeney said: “I am confident that overdose prevention centres can be established legally, and the diversion from prosecution policy introduced by the Lord Advocate means that the police have discretion not to arrest people who use drugs for being in possession of drugs.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “We have no plans to introduce drug consumption rooms in the UK.
“A range of crimes would be committed in the course of running such facilities, by both service users and staff, such as possession of a controlled drug or knowingly permitting the supply of a controlled drug on a premises.”