There are no plans to introduce drug consumption rooms in the UK, Scottish secretary Alister Jack has said.
During Scotland Questions in the Commons on Wednesday, SNP MP Angela Crawley had asked about what discussions had taken place over the effectiveness of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
The SNP have pressed the UK Government to devolve powers to allow drugs consumption rooms to be established, with the powers currently residing at Westminster.
Latest figures indicate that more than 1200 people died in Scotland in 2019 as a result of drug misuse – the highest annual figure on record.
Jack told MPs that the majority of the levers to tackle drugs misuse are delivered and devolved.
“It’s a tragedy that drug deaths in Scotland are the worst in Europe and about four times that of England and Wales,” he said.
“The majority of the levers to tackle drugs misuse are delivered and devolved to the Scottish Government, including health, education, housing and the criminal justice system.
“But, as the First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon) has admitted, they have taken their eye off the ball.
“We are keen, the United Kingdom Government, to work with the Scottish Government to tackle this scourge and my colleague, (Home Office minister Kit Malthouse) held a UK-wide summit in Glasgow.
“He also invited the Scottish Government to be part of a new scheme, Project ADDER, which aims to protect communities from the harm caused by drugs. The Scottish Government has, sadly, so far declined.”
Crawley asked Jack whether he would support calls for a four-nations summit to be held on drugs deaths .
“The Scottish Government intend to open an overdose prevention centre in Glasgow to tackle drug deaths and HIV infection rates,” she said.
“They are prevented from doing so by this government’s reliance on the out of date, ill-fitting drug legislation, The Misuse of Drugs Act.
“Ahead of Saturday’s support don’t punish day of action, will the minister speak with his Cabinet colleagues on the need to reform this Act and support the Scottish Government’s call for an urgent four-nations summit on this issue?”
Jack responded: “As I’ve said, all home nations have the same tools at their disposal, yet the drugs death rate in Scotland is four times higher.
“And there are no plans to introduce drug consumption rooms. The current evidence doesn’t support their use.
“We do support, however, needle and syringe programmes to prevent blood-borne diseases and also, the widening of the availability of naloxone to help prevent overdose deaths.”
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