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Legal consumption rooms have ‘potential to reduce drug related deaths’

Alison Thewliss called on the Government to back Glasgow’s proposal arguing the status quo served neither addicts, their families or the public.

Plans for legal drug consumption rooms have “real potential to reduce drug related deaths and ongoing harm”, an SNP MP has said.

Alison Thewliss called on the Government to back Glasgow’s proposal arguing the status quo served neither addicts, their families or the public.

The Glasgow Central MP said the Scottish Government supported the move with Scottish ministers requesting permission from the Home Office to allow for the proposal to go ahead, but it had not yet been granted.

Ms Thewliss argued there was a “significant cost in not doing this” as she listed the money spent on ambulance call outs, emergency hospital admissions and police time.

Welfare reforms

Her Supervised Drug Consumption Facilities Bill would make provision about supervised drug consumption facilities to make it lawful to take controlled substances within such facilities in specified circumstances.

Those operating, working in and using the rooms, she added, required protection in law and the bill sought to exempt staff and those using drugs within the facilities from prosecution.

She said: “I’ve listened to the heartbroken families who have lost loved ones, if it was their choice they would not have their loved one die alone in a filthy back lane, they would want a medically supervised facility where treatment could be given and help could be sought.

“The status quo serves none of these people well. I cannot accept that this is the best that we can do, it’s unacceptable, we must try something different. I accept that it may not work but we must at least try.”

One of her constituents she said mentioned that Glasgow already had drug consumption facilities behind bushes, in bin shelters, on filthy waste grounds and lonely back lanes.

She said: “They are in public toilets and in stolen spaces where intravenous drug users can grasp the tiniest modicum of dignity and privacy for as long as it takes to prepare and inject their fix. Often they are alone and far too regularly drug users will die as a result. As a society we can and we must do much better than that.”

SNP MP Alison Thewliss's motion

Ms Thewliss said there was a “real and persistent” issue in the city, with an ageing population of people with long term problem drug use in deteriorating health.

She said: “There needs to be a recognition by this House that abstinence based programmes will not necessarily work for everyone and that harm reduction and support will be better and more worthwhile interventions for a group of people who have not managed to eliminate drug use in the preceding decades.”

The Bill was listed for a second reading on April 27, but it unlikely to become law due to a lack of Parliamentary time.

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