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Tory MS urges Welsh Government to follow Scotland on safe drug consumption rooms

28 Sep 2023 4 minute read
UK’s first safe consumption room has been given the go ahead in Scotland.

Emily Price

A Tory MS has urged the Welsh Government to follow Scotland’s lead on plans for a safe facility for users to consume illegal drugs.

Proposals for the UK’s first facility for illegal drug consumption were approved in Scotland on Wednesday (September 27) by the Glasgow City Integration Joint Board.

The centre will allow people to use their own illegal drugs in a hygienic environment with trained staff on hand to support users should any issues arise.

The Scottish Government said the scheme will help to tackle the country’s drugs deaths crisis.

Staff for the facility are expected to be hired next year with Holyrood making £2.3m a year available for the pilot.

The green light came after Scotland’s Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC announced it would not be in the “public interest” to prosecute users of such a facility.

Home Office minister Chris Philp said previously the UK Government does not support such facilities in England and Wales, over concern they “condone or even encourage” drug use, but added his department is “not going to stand in the way” of the pilot in Scotland provided the power is exercised lawfully.

UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman told ITV: “My view is it’s the wrong policy and I don’t support the policy of drug consumption rooms. I don’t believe they deal with the root cause of addiction and drug dependency so I would not support that policy.”

Rehabilitation

MS for Brecon and Radnorshire, James Evans MS welcomed the news and called on the Welsh Government to look at how a similar pilot could potentially be introduced in Wales.

However, Mr Evans said that should a Welsh pilot take place, any findings from that of the one in Scotland must be met with long term planning around rehabilitation to ensure individuals receive support in reducing their reliance on illegal drugs.

Mr Evans said: “When you look around the world and study approaches to drug epidemics, those with recovery at their core are by far the most successful. From the Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland, there is a strong case for the state to play a more hands on role in helping vulnerable people move away from drug addiction through innovative treatment options.

“As a small nation of 3.1m people, we could bring forward world leading results for others to reference in the future. We should not shy away from adopting forward thinking policy that can seriously help people’s lives.

“We all know of the adverse effect illegal drug consumption has and how if un-resolved, our NHS will only face growing pressure. I have long believed that we need to promote treatment and recovery for those who are facing addiction problems and look at the bigger picture of a growing mental health crisis amongst some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

“I look forward to seeing how the pilot develops in Scotland and what the outcome indicates in how we can possibly improve drug prevention policy in Wales.”

The Welsh Government says preventing harm caused by drug misuse has been a key part of its substance misuse agenda through the Substance Misuse Delivery Plan.

Over £67m has been invested in the agenda, with £39m going to the Area Planning Boards through the Substance Misuse Action Fund.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The use of overdose prevention vans or ‘safe injecting sites’, is a matter for the UK Government as legislation on the misuse of drugs is not devolved.

“We are committed to reducing the harm caused by drug misuse by working with partners to provide support and treatment as quickly as possible and to reach those not currently in touch with substance misuse services.”


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Gareth
Gareth
6 months ago

What a great idea, and I fully support MS Evans on this, slight problem here. Does he not realise that Scorland has its own legal system and control of its police and judiciary, while our is run from London, and as stated above the home sec Braverman is against this, so it is Westminster he needs to be lobbying. Another Tory in Cymru who has no clue how the country operates, just like Simon Hart.

David C
David C
6 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

Agreed, great idea but he is barking up the wrong tree. I wish him luck with Cruella Braverman as she would, I have little doubt, prefer to transport people with addictions issues off to a far away country rather than treat them with compassion and humanity.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
6 months ago

Just been watching Politics Live on the BBC and this subject was discussed by the panel. The Tory minister stated that his government was opposed to this idea and the Hone Secretary Suella Braverman would not follow the SNP & Glasgow lead for England. Notice they mention England. No mention of Wales in the equation? And I echo those highlighting a slight problem with Tory MS James Evans call for Wales & Welsh Government to follow Scotland & Glasgow in setting up safe drug consumption rooms. We don’t control our criminal justice system thanks to the Tory Government continually refusing… Read more »

Philip Davies
Philip Davies
6 months ago

According to reports from the Vancouver safe space for drug addicts, ‘Insite’, of the 5,368 they referred to social and health services between its opening in 2003 and 2015, only 262 succeeded in kicking the habit.

These spaces are a virtue-signalling waste of time and money. Little lasting benefit is conferred and their operation mainly enables the habit at taxpayer expense.

The money would be better spent on those hospital facilities where addicts sincerely intending to get clear of their addiction could attend, or be referred to if hospitalised by addiction.

Gareth
Gareth
6 months ago
Reply to  Philip Davies

Insite claim to have saved thousands of lives, and saved Canadian healthcare millions of dollars each year since opening in 2003. Perhaps we should see how this works before being labelled ” virtue signalling “.
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&opi=89978449&url=https://www.phs.ca/program/insite/&ved=2ahUKEwjT9dLPoc2BAxU1YEEAHSwnAnoQFnoECBEQAQ&usg=AOvVaw0u4nIqBR9h7ecbGQXmuipn

Philip Davies
Philip Davies
6 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

I’ve read their Website (thanks). They do indeed say they’ve saved ‘. . . thousands of lives and millions of healthcare dollars each year’. However, ‘New Beginnings Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation’ gives the actual figures I have already quoted indicating only very modest success. Moreover, ‘Rehab Recovery’ finds that, ‘Despite the effectiveness of safe injection sites, they are still very limited in their efforts to combat addiction, and in some cases, they may even be counterproductive to the efforts to end the opioid epidemic.’ ‘Rehab Recovery’ also states, ‘Establishing safe-injection sites which are up to standards, cost a lot of… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Philip Davies
Gareth
Gareth
6 months ago
Reply to  Philip Davies

The report above and my first post should have told you that our Gov can not Implement the scheme as has been in Glasgow, because this is under Westminster control , so no waste of our money. The common everyday citizens already fund the addiction of alcoholics and the results of smoking, through the NHS, should we stop this and save money. Places like the above also keep needles off the streets and outside public buildings including schools, and playgrounds.

Philip Davies
Philip Davies
6 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

I am perfectly well aware of the pros and cons of such safe rooms, thank-you very much. (I often wonder, Why does left-wing opinion so often attempt to characterise people whose views are right-of-centre as invariably thick?) Must I point out that taxpayers don’t fund pubs and smoking is widely forbidden in public areas. Moreover, far from being chiefly a drain on the public purse, both of these activities remain a handsome source of Britain’s total tax-take. As to the safe removal and disposal of litter from every source, including all hazardous waste, this is – or certainly should be… Read more »

Gareth
Gareth
6 months ago
Reply to  Philip Davies

It was a Tory MS who raised the proposal, so the Tory ” utopian dreamers” in the Senedd need to be spoken to by Tory party members.At no point did I say or infer that pubs were taxpayer funded, and sensible drinking does raise revenue, but addiction costs the NHS millions each year, as does smoking. As for the removal of needles etc, unless we maintain a 24 cleaning service on every street in the country, no way are councils going to stop the mess, drug users do not keep 9 to 5 hours when ” jacking up” and throwing… Read more »

Gareth
Gareth
6 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

Furthermore, the office of budget responsibility ( OBR) forecast duty on alcohol to be £ 13 billion. The cost of alchol problems to the UK £ 21 billion for England and Wales, including the cost to the NHS absenteeism, and drink related crime.
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&opi=89978449&url=https://www.ias.org.uk/uploads/pdf/Factsheets/FS%2520economic%2520impacts%2520042016%2520webres.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwjnldiw-s2BAxUfY0EAHWQVBAMQFnoECBAQBg&usg=AOvVaw1ih-FQ7o9-1REQBbCDjt7B

Philip Davies
Philip Davies
6 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

A deluded Tory? ‘If the cap fits . . .’. Addressing your next ‘correction’, I was thinking how pubs are ‘safe spaces’ for drinkers, AA fugitives amongst them no doubt, in order to counter the notion that indulgence – ‘enablement’ – rather than abstinence – ‘recovery’ – was ever analogous to those Temperance Movement premises that once were alternatives to the pub, where of course only non-alcoholic beverages were drunk; because your direct comparison between the cost of allowing people to drink intoxicating liquor in their commercial safe space and the cost of allowing people to abuse far more dangerous… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Philip Davies
Riki
Riki
6 months ago
Reply to  Philip Davies

Spot on!

Llyn
Llyn
6 months ago

Fair play well done to James Evans for his willingness to break free from the Conservative Party’s nanny state view on drugs.

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
6 months ago
Reply to  Llyn

Just like Welsh Tories broke free from the party’s line when they initially supported the proposed 20mph speed limit, you mean?

I have heard MS James Evans speak and forgive me for being a bit cynical of his support for this and his motives.

Welshman28
Welshman28
6 months ago

Scotland can show no real evident on how many addicts have received extra help or come off drugs. Yes addicts do use them but not in the volume the Scot’s government wanted. It’s an exercise to take the headlines off the amount of addicts in Scotland and show they are doing something.Sorry but as for expenditure it’s had it’s budget cut as it’s a huge chunk out of the NHS budget. Yes those who believe in it praise it and they should but many qualified medical staff know addicts will not respond to this sort as Canada and the USA… Read more »

Paul
Paul
6 months ago

Braverman has already attacked Scotland for the idea.
So this appears to be a Tory suggesting a policy for their masters in London to use as a cudgel against Welsh Labour. Much like 20mph.

Riki
Riki
6 months ago

And how is this working out for Canada? Terrible idea.

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