Minister welcomes statement from Lord Advocate.
An announcement by the Lord Advocate, that it would not be in the public interest for people using a pilot Safer Drug Consumption room to face prosecution for possession within the facility, has been welcomed by the Drugs and Alcohol Policy Minister Elena Whitham.
Dorothy Bain KC’s indication that she would issue a public statement of prosecution policy removes an obstacle to establishing the first official Safer Drug Consumption Facility in the UK. It follows her independent consideration of a detailed proposal for a pilot developed by Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) and Police Scotland, facilitated by the Scottish Government.
Today’s news means Glasgow HSCP can take plans to establish the facility to the Glasgow City Integration Joint Board for approval.
Drugs and Alcohol Policy Minister Elena Whitham said:
“I welcome the position the Lord Advocate has taken.
“Glasgow authorities may now progress their proposal to set up a facility which can operate within the existing legal framework. While the service would still be limited to some extent, due to the reserved Misuse of Drugs Act, we are confident it would save lives.
“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 now time to see this approach piloted in Scotland.
“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.
“Through our £250 million National Mission, we are doing everything within our powers to tackle drug deaths in Scotland. However, the number of deaths is still too high and we must use every means at our disposal as we face future challenges, including the increasing threat from synthetic opioids.”
Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie said:
“Police Scotland is committed to working in partnership to reduce the harm associated with problematic substance use and addiction.
“Our approach to any initiative aimed at tackling these harms will be to establish how best policing can support it within the confines of the law.
“It is important to note that existing legislation will not be changing and, while we may take an overall supportive policing approach, police officers will still be bound by their legal duty to uphold the law and will not be able to simply ignore acts of criminality which they see occurring.”
Susanne Millar, Chief Officer for Glasgow’s Health and Social Care Partnership, said:
“We welcome the position from the Lord Advocate and the positive response on plans for a Safer Drug Consumption Facility to operate in Glasgow. A large body of evidence already exists from around the world which demonstrates that Safer Drug Consumption Facilities can save lives, as well as reducing the spread of blood-borne viruses and cutting levels of publically discarded injecting equipment.”
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