Tory MS urges Welsh Government to follow Scotland on safe drug consumption rooms
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.”
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.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.