Former addict launches safe consumption van for drug users

Peter Krykant's van aims to provide fresh needles to those struggling with addiction around Glasgow.

Former addict launches safe consumption van for drug users STV
Van: Former addict launches safe consumption van.

A former drug addict has converted a minivan into a safe consumption room for substance users in a bid to reduce death rates.

Peter Krykant has kitted out the vehicle with sanitisers and fresh needles to be used by those struggling with addiction around Glasgow.

The van aims to provide a safe and clean place for people to inject.

Figures show Scotland has the highest death rate in relation to substance abuse across Europe.

Mr Kyrkant said: “I could not stand back any more allowing people to die when we have an internationally recognised way to keep people alive and reduce the harm caused by drugs.

“Drug consumption rooms (DCRs) are not a magic bullet, but they are one of many things that are needed now in the country to tackle this pandemic.

“I will no longer be part of the broken system and will stand up for the basic human rights of those currently forgotten about by our MPs and those in power.

“I have been told I risk arrest and the police will do so if I operate this safe area, however I am willing to be arrested.

“The Misuse of Drugs Act is outdated and changes are needed now – not a promise of change, but actual change.

“If there was a will this could happen overnight – we have seen this through changes that were made during Covid-19.”

Latest figures for drug-related deaths in Scotland, published in July 2019, led to the crisis being called a public health emergency.

The statistics showed that a record 1187 people died of substance misuse in 2018 – a 27% increase on the previous year.

Mr Kyrkant, who was homeless when injecting drugs, was inspired to create the facility after seeing them operate in Copenhagen, Denmark.

He has experience of working with people in Glasgow who are at risk of HIV, Hep C and overdosing.

Despite his efforts, he believes more needs to be done to tackle problems caused by drug addiction rather than just allowing the facilities to operate.

DCRs have previously been backed by the Scottish Government but a move to introduce them has been blocked by the Home Office.

Glasgow City Council had plans for such a facility to allow users to take their own drugs under medical supervision.

But the Westminster government has refused to allow the local authority to pilot the scheme.

A previous study, conducted by academics in Glasgow and Liverpool, questioned more than 1500 people in Scotland and found 61% agreed with introducing the facilities, while 15% were against and 24% unsure.

The UK Government has said illegal drugs “devastate lives and communities” and ruled out introducing DCRs.