A government-funded open-air drug market in the heart of San Francisco has been closed down.
The controversial Tenderloin Center opened in December 2021 and cost the city’s health department $22 million.
The pilot scheme has been branded a failure which created ‘misery’ for locals.
During its first four months, only 18 out of the more than 23,000 visitors received medical treatment for substance abuse or were successfully referred to rehab by the centre.
Co-founder of Mothers Against Drug Deaths, Gina McDonald, said the centre was “never intended to be a place where people could come to do drugs, but that is exactly what has happened”.
Following the opening of the ‘safe drug consumption’ facility in San Francisco, shocking images emerged of illegal drug use in public. Recovering addict Ricci Wynne posted a video of school children on their way home walking past people injecting in streets near the facility.
Former addict, Thomas Wolf, criticised the approach saying in recent years the city has “created the environment for easy access to drugs 24/7”.
‘Misery and chaos’
In August, California backtracked on plans to open further facilities over fears they encourage illegal drug use, with Governor Gavin Newsom vetoing a Bill to authorise sites in three cities.
Despite being an ardent supporter of so-called “harm reduction strategies”, Newsom stated that opening more sites risked causing “worsening drug consumption challenges”.
San Francisco Police Officers Association President, Tracy McCray, said that “sanctioned drug dens” created “misery and chaos for the residents and businesses”.
The Scottish Government said the introduction of officially sanctioned rooms for addicts to inject themselves would be a key part of its strategy to bring down drug deaths.
Scotland’s Drug Death Taskforce recommended that ‘supervised drug consumption facilities’ should be rolled out across the country. In its report ‘Changing Lives’, the quango set up in 2019 also encouraged the “provision of drug paraphernalia” through “harm-reduction” services.
SNP Minister for Drugs Policy Angela Constance hailed the report as a “bold blueprint of what needs to be done” and said she is ‘committed’ to the controversial approach.
The Christian Institute’s Ciarán Kelly said: “The Scottish Government needs to take a long hard look at the ‘progressive’ approach of San Francisco and back away from this seriously misguided policy. Encouraging drug addicts to inject will increase harm, not reduce it.”