‘Scotland should open consumption rooms without law change’

The campaigners were speaking before the Criminal Justice Committee at Holyrood.

‘Scotland should open consumption rooms without law change’ Paul Faith via PA Wire
The facilities were first suggested after an HIV outbreak in Glasgow.

Scotland should open drug consumption rooms without waiting for a change in the law, campaigners have said.

The Scottish Government has long been in favour of the facilities, which would provide a safe area with medical supervision for people struggling with addiction to take drugs.

But the UK Government has stood against the idea, refusing to grant a waiver to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 that would allow for the users and staff to be protected from prosecution.

The first facility was planned by Glasgow City Council but other local authorities have expressed an interest.

Campaigner Peter Krykant ran a safe consumption room from a converted minivan in Glasgow (Jane Barlow/PA)PA Media via PA Ready
Campaigner Peter Krykant ran a safe consumption room from a converted minivan in Glasgow (Jane Barlow/PA)
Advertisement

Campaigner Peter Krykant, frustrated with the legal wrangle over the facilities, created his own in the form of a converted minivan that would go to different areas of the city.

Both Mr Krykant and Scottish Drugs Forum chief executive David Liddell OBE said the fact no prosecutions have resulted from the van shows the Scottish Government could give the go-ahead for the facilities.

“When I ran the safe consumption facility in Glasgow, there was no police intervention apart from a meaningless allegation of obstruction in the course of a search, so we could go ahead and open these facilities with a simple divert scheme into those facilities,” Mr Krykant told Holyrood’s Criminal Justice Committee on Wednesday.

“I already know Police Scotland officers were seeing people injecting in alleyways and diverting them to my ambulance to come and inject in a safe, supervised environment to reduce the risk of HIV.”

Advertisement

Mr Liddell said: “As Peter has alluded to in terms of the drug consumption room he ran, there was no public interest in prosecuting Peter and no prosecution followed.

“It’s a ridiculous state of affairs that he could run a service like that and not be prosecuted but Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board that want to run a service like that can’t.

“We should proceed with drug consumption rooms in Scotland under the current legislation.

“If that requires a letter of comfort from the Lord Advocate – that is what we’ve previously advocated and pushed for.”

The Scottish Government has said as recently as this month that work continues to find a way to open the facilities.

In a meeting with UK policing minister Kit Malthouse, drugs minister Angela Constance said “we will leave no stone unturned in working to overcome existing legal barriers to implement safe consumption rooms in Scotland”.

The calls for the facilities began in the middle of the last decade following a major HIV outbreak in Glasgow, but these have now morphed into a response to the drugs death crisis, which figures show killed 1339 people in 2020.