Scotland’s Lord Advocate ready to ‘turn blind eye’ on illegal drug use

Heroin addicts who inject in ‘approved’ shooting galleries should not face prosecution, Scotland’s most senior law officer has proposed.

Dorothy Bain KC said she is ready to effectively decriminalise the use of hard drugs in so-called safe consumption facilities which have been sanctioned by the Scottish Government.

In July, the UK Government rejected SNP-Green coalition proposals to decriminalise all drugs for personal use and introduce drug rooms where addicts could inject themselves without fear of arrest.

Tolerating criminality

On Monday, Bain said that she is “prepared to publish a prosecution policy that it would not be in the public interest to prosecute drug users for simple possession offences committed within a pilot safer drugs consumption facility”.

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”.

Drugs worker Annemarie Ward said such facilities send the message that people had “given up” on tackling addiction. She argued that people need “help to get well and to stop using drugs”, rather than encouragement to use them.

Laissez-faire attitude

First Minister Humza Yousaf described Bain’s intervention as “very significant” and only last week urged the UK’s Home Secretary Suella Braverman to drop her opposition to drug shooting galleries in Scotland.

Following the Lord Advocate’s statement, Scotland Secretary Alister Jack told Westminster: “Drug consumption rooms are not the easy solution.

“There is no safe way to take illegal drugs. They devastate lives, they ruin families, they damage communities and the UK Government believes the police and the procurator fiscal service should fully enforce the law.

“However, if the Scottish Government and the Lord Advocate decide to proceed with a pilot on drugs consumption rooms, the UK Government will not intervene.”

Drug-related deaths

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.

Also see:


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