Monday, 08 October 2018 16:59

HOME OFFICE ‘BLOCKS' REAL CHANGE ON DRUG CONSUMPTION ROOMS

UK GOVERNMENT MUST SEIZE POTENTIAL TO TACKLE DRUG-RELATED DEATHS IN SCOTLAND

Delegates at the Scottish National Party conference in Glasgow have reaffirmed the party’s support for legal drug consumption rooms and have called on the UK Government to allow Supervised Drug Consumption Facilities (SDCF).

Proposals for a SDCF in Glasgow, proposed by Glasgow’s Health and Social Care Partnership, have gathered cross-party support from MPs at Westminster and a majority of MSPs in the Scottish Parliament, as well as the unanimous backing of councillors at Glasgow City Council.

However, plans were recently halted when the UK Home Office blocked the proposal, saying they had no plans to introduce the legal framework to allow the facilities to be piloted.

National Records of Scotland (NRS) statistics revealed that, in 2017, 934 drug-related deaths occurred in Scotland - 8% more than in 2016. Of these, 280 occurred in the Glasgow area alone.

Following figures from Health Protection Scotland showing Scotland’s HIV diagnosis rising, the National Aids Trust’s Director of Strategy confirmed the charity’s backing for the opening of a drug consumption room in Glasgow.

Commenting, Glasgow Central MP Alison Thewliss said:

“Drug law in the UK is clearly not working. Scotland’s drug deaths are at a record high but the Tories at Westminster have actively blocked plans by Glasgow’s Health and Social Care Partnership from taking practical action to tackle this serious problem.

“My constituency office receives regular reports with regards to needles and other drug paraphernalia being discarded in public places in and around the city centre, contributing to wider public health concerns. Indeed, there were 129 new cases of HIV in the wider Glasgow area in 2017, a significant proportion of which were linked to drug-injecting. 

“Today, conference delegates have reaffirmed the SNP’s firm commitment to Supervised Drug Consumption Facilities in Scotland. The weight of evidence in support of these facilities has never been more compelling and it is imperative that action is taken now.

“Supervised Drug Consumption Facilities have cross-party approval at Holyrood and Westminster and plans were unanimously supported at Glasgow City Council. Glasgow has a drug-injecting populating of approximately 500 people – and has done for many years. People are dying on our streets and the risk to the general public from discarded needles and transmission of blood borne diseases is very real. 

“The political will is there and the only remaining hurdle to properly addressing this issue is the Home Office’s unwillingness to grant an exemption to the law. The SNP’s message to the UK Government is clear; stop being the barrier to real change - act now and allow this important step to tackle drug-related deaths in Scotland.”

‘HIV diagnoses soar in Scotland’ - https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/hiv-diagnoses-soar-in-scotland-v0gcd2pqc

‘MP launches bid to legalise 'fix rooms'’ - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-43925682

‘Fight continues for Glasgow drug consumption rooms as Home Office blocks proposal’ - https://www.glasgowlive.co.uk/news/glasgow-news/fight-continues-glasgow-drug-consumption-14178345

‘'It may not solve everything but we must try' – Glasgow MP's plea over Westminster drug laws stalling city 'fix room' plan’ - https://www.glasgowlive.co.uk/news/glasgow-news/it-not-solve-everything-must-14317103

‘'We cannot stand still': Bill to allow Glasgow drug consumption facility introduced at Westminster’ - https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/12505/we-cannot-stand-still-bill-allow-glasgow-drug-consumption-facility-introduced

‘Cross-party pressure on UK Government grows to reform drug policy’ - https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/12188/cross-party-pressure-uk-government-grows-reform-drug-policy

CONFERENCE RESOLUTION 9 - MEDICALLY-SUPERVISED INJECTION FACILITIES

Conference notes the tragically high level of drug-related deaths in Scotland, driven by increasing mortality rates among older drug users, and reiterates its support for a public-health led approach to support people with addictions which meets the individual health needs of drug users.

Conference recognises the compelling and evidence-based arguments for introducing safer drug consumption facilities to meet the needs of hard to reach long term drug users, believes this will save lives, and supports the firm intention of Glasgow’s Health and Social Care Partnership to establish such a facility, as well as a heroin assisted treatment facility, in the city.

Conference welcomes the strong support provided to Glasgow by the Scottish Government and notes the unanimous cross-party support for this approach in Glasgow City Council, as well as cross party support from parliamentarians in Holyrood and cross-party support in Westminster and further notes the support for safe consumption facilities expressed by a number of English and Welsh police commissioners.

Conference recognises that a safer drug consumption facility can only become operational if an exemption from the Misuse of Drugs Act is provided to the Health and Social Care Partnership and calls on the Home Office to agree to enable Glasgow to pilot a safe consumption facility either by directly providing a legal exemption or by devolving the powers which are necessary to enable the Scottish Government to do so.

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