Johnstone calls for devolution of powers to create safe facilities for drug users

Alison Johnstone MSP, Health spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, will today (19 Apr) call for powers to create safe facilities for drug users to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

This afternoon’s Holyrood debate on the issue comes after Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership’s plan for a safe drug consumption facility was blocked by the UK Government.

Safe centres would reduce public injecting and sharing of needles, and help prevent incidents such as the recent HIV outbreak in Glasgow which affected one in five of the 500 people who are thought to inject drugs in the city centre.

Alison Johnstone MSP said:

“Throughout Europe, there are around 80 supervised consumption rooms, and they play an important part in harm reduction.  We must learn from successful ways treating problem drug use as a public health issue, and developing recovery-based approaches to addition. 

“All the evidence shows that safer facilities for drug consumption saves lives and it is essential that we have the powers to introduce these crucial health facilities when and where they are needed.

“It is unacceptable that this vital health facility has been blocked due to reserved legislation.  Given the clear public health basis of the proposals in Glasgow, the Lord Advocate suggested that the UK Government should be approached with a request to devolve powers relevant to the control of drugs. 

“It is beyond frustrating that the UK Government has expressed no intention to devolve these powers.  A resolution must be found, and urgently.  The Scottish Greens fully support the devolution of these powers. They are an important health measure which cannot afford the delay of having Westminster legislate on this each and every time a new facility is required.”