Glasgow officials have backed the introduction of a drug room where addicts can inject themselves without fear of arrest.
The £2.3 million pilot scheme for a so-called safe consumption facility was ratified by Glasgow City Integration Joint Board this week.
Once open, the ‘shooting gallery’, which is endorsed by the Scottish Government, will be the first prosecution-free drug zone in the UK.
A report presented to Wednesday’s board meeting acknowledged that the drug room is “likely to polarise opinion”.
The Hunter Street site in the east end of the city will be open for the use of street-bought hard drugs from 9am to 9pm everyday throughout the year.
In July, the UK Government rejected SNP-Green coalition proposals to decriminalise all drugs for personal use and introduce drug rooms.
But in September, Scotland Secretary Alister Jack said that the Westminster Government “will not intervene” should the Scottish Government “decide to proceed with a pilot on drugs consumption rooms”.
Dorothy Bain KC, Scotland’s Lord Advocate, has already indicated that she is ready to effectively decriminalise the use of hard drugs in the Glasgow clinic.
She denied her proposal amounted “to an exclusion zone whereby a range of criminality is tolerated”, and claimed Police Scotland would “retain the ability to effectively police the facility”.
Responding to the statement, Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie noted that “existing legislation will not be changing” and officers “will not be able to simply ignore acts of criminality which they see occurring”.
While drugs legislation is handled by Westminster, the Scottish Government has control over its approach to tackling the problem of drugs.
In 2022, drug-related deaths in Scotland exceeded a thousand for the fifth year in a row.