A UK Government minister has highlighted the possible consequences for operators if drug consumption rooms (DCRs) are legalised in Scotland.
Kit Malthouse, Minister of State for Crime and Policing, has told the Westminster Scottish Affairs Committee that operators could be sued by users and families “were things to go wrong” on their premises.
Earlier this year, Westminster made its opposition to ‘fixing rooms’ clear. It said: “We have no plans to introduce drug consumption rooms in the UK. Anyone running them would be committing a range of offences.”
In a letter to the Scottish Affairs Committee chairman, Pete Wishart MP, Malthouse said that drug injecting facilities presented a host of legal challenges.
Alongside the possibility of criminal prosecution, he said operators also faced “difficulties around civil liability”.
He added that “were things to go wrong, with those operating DCRs” they faced the potential of “being sued for damages in negligence”.
The Minister reiterated the Government’s previous statement. He said: “At present there has been no new evidence presented to me which would change the Government’s position in relation to DCRs.”
In 2019 the Home Office rejected demands from some Scottish MPs to decriminalise the possession of illegal drugs.
Responding to calls from the Scottish Affairs Committee, the Home Office said that it “would not eliminate the crime committed by the illicit trade, nor would it address the harms associated with drug dependence and the misery that this can cause to families and communities”.
Over 1,260 people died of drug misuse in Scotland last year, the highest number since records began – and a new record for six years in a row.