26th October 2020
Today, Scottish Drugs Forum reacts to a reported incident in Glasgow, where a man was cautioned by police carrying out their enforcement duties under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 during a weekly demonstration of a safer drug consumption facility – that has been undertaken for nearly two months – in protest at the thwarting of plans for the legal provision of a facility planned by the local health board and council.
This situation is deeply regrettable and unnecessary. This demonstration has continued for almost two months and has shown that a safer consumption facility is needed and would be used by people currently publicly injecting drugs – a vulnerable group of people who often have very complex issues and face huge challenges in their lives.
There has been little or no public, business or media complaint about the service provided.
In other words, there is no practical barrier to providing the service excepting the legal dilemma facing authorities in Scotland.
A better equipped service staffed by medical professionals and integrated with other support and treatment services is a much preferable solution and the only possible sustainable service solution in the long term.
The prosecution of individuals for obstructing the enforcement of a dated law which prevents the provision of a safer consumption facility – a purpose for which that law was never designed or intended – is not in the interest of the Scottish public.
There is time now to avoid further police action and personal risk to those making this demonstration. We call on the Scottish Government and Lord Advocate to become part of the consensus that has been established, and demonstrated in Glasgow, and allow the provision of safer consumption facilities in Scotland. The evidence for their effectiveness is demonstrated internationally where they have been provided for decades.
There is a challenge and a demand here for coordinated and compassionate leadership in Scotland to lead us from this situation and allow us all to do what is demonstrably the right thing in the difficult circumstances in which we find ourselves; to reach out to assist and support some of Scotland’s most vulnerable people in the face of a public health emergencies in drug overdose deaths and an HIV outbreak which has already spread beyond Glasgow.