By Rimante Boguzaite
MP Caroline Lucas has called Brighton and Hove City council to re-consider setting up of drug consumption rooms, where drug users could inject under supervision.
If approved, the city would follow in the footsteps of Glasgow, the first city in the UK to be given the green light to pilot a safer drug consumption facility this October.
A similar proposal was considered in Brighton two years ago, but was rejected by the city Independent Drug Commission (IDC).
Peter James, the chair of commission for IDC said back in 2014 that 80% of the of the crime in the city was drug-related.
Substance abusers often experience problems of homelessness, mental illness, and poverty, and are vulnerable to blood-borne viruses, overdose and injecting-related complications.
Fix rooms are widespread in Canada, Australia, and European countries like Switzerland and the Netherlands, where they have shown to have reduced risky behaviour, cut criminal activity and minimised harm from overdoses, which in turn has reduced overall cost for hospitals and policing.
Critics say the policy would condone illegal drug use and delay entry into rehabilitation, with some laws, including the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, possibly having to be amended to protect service users and staff from arrest and prosecution.
Sussex Police Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “Those advocating liberalisation, whether it be decriminalisation or a ‘medicated’ approach, are, in my view, advocating a very risky experiment with the health of a whole generation.”
Consumption rooms – commonly known as shooting galleries – would allow for users to inject their own illegal drugs under supervision of professional healthcare workers. Staff would be trained to deal with overdoses, equipped to supply clean needles to eliminate the risk of infection, and to provide routes into health and social support, as well as make overdose prevention drugs directly available.
According to the IDC report from 2013, 36% of all adults in Brighton and Hove have used illegal drugs, with over 2000 users identified as ‘problem users’.