‘Creating drug rooms tells users: We have given up on you’

Rooms where heroin users can inject themselves have been called for in the Scottish Parliament, but some MSPs say the idea is misguided.

In a vote last Thursday, Scottish politicians supported so-called consumption rooms and urged the UK Government to act.

But the Home Office says it has no plans to create the drug centres – and if Scottish ministers established them now it would be against the law.

Giving up

In a debate at Holyrood, MSPs from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens backed the SNP Government motion. However, Labour MSP Anas Sarwar said drug rooms “are not the magic bullet for solving Scotland’s drug problem”.

Conservative Annie Wells, a Glasgow MSP, said the state should work “first and foremost to get people off drugs altogether”, and questioned whether the drug rooms were saying to users: “We’ve forgotten about you”.

And the Conservatives’ legal affairs spokesman Gordon Lindhurst warned: “The solution is not to give up on those users as if they are beyond help, and it is not to assist them to continue a harmful habit through so-called safe injection facilities.”

However, speaking for the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Alex Cole-Hamilton called for the “decriminalisation of the possession of drugs for personal use”.


In the final vote, the Government’s motion was supported by 79 votes to 27, with one abstention by SNP MSP John Mason.

The Home Office said: “There is no legal framework for the provision of drug consumption rooms in the UK and we have no plans to introduce them.

Last year, Scotland’s Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC said the proposals would be illegal without a Westminster-initiated change in the law.

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