Safer drug consumption facilities: evidence paper

This paper highlights the evidence in support of safer drug consumption facilities.


National statistics[5] published in July 2021 showed that 1,339 drug-related deaths were recorded in Scotland in 2020.

Evidence shows that the trend of increased deaths is predominantly being driven by those aged between 35 and 54 who are long term, vulnerable drug users who have a number of health problems. Almost two thirds (63%) of all drug-related deaths were of people aged between 35 and 54. The average age of drug-related deaths has increased from 32 to 43 over the last 20 years.

After adjusting for age, people in the most deprived parts of Scotland were 18 times as likely to die from a drug-related death as those in the least deprived. The (age standardised) rate in the most deprived quintile was 68.2 per 100,000 population compared with 3.7 in the least deprived quintile, and it appears this gap has widened over time.

Scotland's drug death rate continues to be over 3 and half times that of the UK as a whole and higher than that of any of the countries in Europe where figures are available. After adjusting for age, Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board had the highest drug-related death rate of all Health Board areas for the 5-year period 2016-2020 (30.8 per 100,000 population). It is widely agreed by experts and key stakeholders that a SDCF is needed in Glasgow.

Drug-related deaths in Glasgow have been a persistent concern. The Drug-related Deaths report published by National Records Scotland on 31st July 2020 showed there were 404 drug-related deaths in the health board, and 279 of these deaths were in Glasgow City.

The Scottish Ambulance service data also show an increase, within the G1 to G4 postcode areas, of the use of naloxone being administered. There was a 20% increase from February to the first two weeks in June 2020. 474 incidents where naloxone was used compared to the same period in 2019 where 396 were recorded.

There is strong evidence of a particularly vulnerable cohort of street injectors within the city centre of Glasgow. Factors contributing to their vulnerability include:

  • From the beginning of 2015, Glasgow saw an increase in HIV transmissions amongst people who inject drugs in the city. An initial investigation indicated a link between the outbreak and injecting drug use in public places within the city centre.
  • There were also outbreaks of serious infectious disease among people who inject drugs including botulism (2014-2015) and anthrax (2009-2010). [6]
  • High levels of public injecting within Glasgow City Centre.
  • There have been concerns raised for some years from local residents and businesses about the large amounts of discarded injecting equipment in public places across the city and neighbouring areas that are negatively impacting on the community's safety and amenities.

Glasgow continues to see high levels of Drug Related Deaths. Since 2015 they have risen by 185% from 157 to 291 in the year 2020.



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