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Glasgow fix room planned

December 05 2016
The views of drug users should be at the centre of proposals for the UK’s first injecting and drug treatment centre, say drug charities.

The views of drug users should be at the centre of proposals for the UK’s first injecting and drug treatment centre, according to a leading substance misuse charity.

Plans to open the UK’s first “fix room” for heroin addicts were approved by a Glasgow City Council committee in late October with a final decision expected next year.

But Turning Point Scotland said it was important to consult with street drug users to make sure the facility – where addicts could inject heroin – would work.

The plans are largely about keeping the public safe in response to concerns about how public injecting and discarded needles affect residents in the city.

But they are also said to be the next step in the city’s harm reduction policy. The centre will include a safe space with needle exchange and drug advice on a site to be used for injecting.

The Glasgow City Joint Integration Board (IJB) who approved the plans in principle said drug users should also be able to inhale substances at the facility.

For some people heroin-assisted treatment – or the supervised injection of “medical grade” heroin – might be offered.

Other advice would also be offered including counselling and help with housing and benefits.

Support for the so-called “safer consumption facility” has grown after an increase of injecting drug users getting infected with HIV.

Up to 500 of an estimated 5,500 injecting drug users in the city are thought to be “street users”, shooting up in streets, parks, car parks, public toilets and stairwells.

Turning Point Scotland stressed that their views were essential in making the proposals work.

“Organisations that support the most chaotic drug users in Glasgow have known for some time that Glasgow, like many cities across the world, has a significant problem with public injecting,” said a spokesman.

“We welcome any proposal that tries to address the problem and make both the people themselves and the wider communities safer.

“But it is crucial to consult with drug users who have a range of views and bring as many organisations that support them into the discussion, to address the needs of people injecting and that of the communities affected.”

Safer injecting centres are currently offered in several cities around the world. Vancouver in Canada and Sydney in Australia both have one.

A different scheme, which involved medical grade heroin being injected in supervised conditions to help chronic addicts who were not helped by conventional treatments was trialled in London in 2010. The results at the time were said to be “very encouraging”.

Susanne Millar, chair of the Alcohol & Drug Partnership (ADP), said: “We believe it will improve the health of the target population as well as benefit local communities and businesses that are currently adversely affected by public injecting.”

The plans do not currently have the backing of the Scottish Government and some drug experts are unconvinced they would work.

Former Strathclyde Police inspector Jim Duffy, of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), which campaigns for the decriminalisation of drugs, said it was recognition of the failure of the “war on drugs”.