VolteFace, a drug policy think tank, has published a new report on the feasibility of establishing drug consumption rooms in the UK.
The report, ‘Back Yard’, states that drug-related deaths and drug-related litter have risen to unprecedented levels in the UK and concludes drug consumption rooms (DCRs) are a viable policy alternative which could address these harms.
DCRs are medically supervised healthcare facilities where people can consume drugs in safer conditions and access further support for their needs.
The report looks at the current plans and developments in relation to two proposed DCRs which are hoped to open in Dublin (Safer Injection Facility) and in Glasgow (Safer Drug Consumption Facility).
Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership is currently identifying a suitable site, and the Irish Health Service Executive is undergoing a tendering process for a service in Dublin city centre.
The report states that drug consumption rooms are effective in reducing self-reported risk behaviours associated with injection; such as syringe sharing, reaching and staying in contact with highly marginalised target populations, reducing drug-related deaths, increasing uptake of detoxification and drug dependence treatment and decreasing public injecting.
It also states that a DCR does not increase drug use, frequency of injecting, drug dealing, drug trafficking or drug-related crime in the surrounding environment.
The Herald newspaper has reported that removal of drug-related litter by Glasgow City, mainly syringes and hypodermic needles, increased between 2016 and 2017, from 324 to 543, a 68 per cent increase.
Drug-related litter discarded in public parks, playing fields, public toilets, footpaths and car parks, can place people in the community at risk of injury. The report states that a DCR would reduce the amount of drug-related litter in the proximity of the service.
Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central (where the Glasgow DRC is proposed), has backed the report, saying the issue could not continue to be ignored. “I’ve witnessed people injecting in broad daylight near to my office at Glasgow Cross, and the reality is that used needles and other drug paraphernalia are being regularly discarded in public places, which is becoming a major health risk.”
“Evidence from safe injecting facilities in other countries demonstrates they reduce levels of drug addiction, as well as improving public safety through reducing the level of discarded needles and other related items in the streets.”