Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he does not believe drug consumption rooms can work, after a pilot programme was approved in Glasgow.
The city council backed the creation of the facility this week after years of legal wrangling was resolved by Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC earlier this month.
Scotland’s top law officer said it would not be “in the public interest” to prosecute people using such a service – which allows those who inject drugs to do so under medical supervision, as well as offering care that could aid them in their recovery from addiction.
Speaking to STV News in a pre-Conservative conference interview on Thursday, the Prime Minister backed comments made previously by Scottish Secretary Alister Jack that the UK Government would not seek to block the facility from opening.
Misnaming the Lord Advocate, the Prime Minister said: “No, that’s exactly as I said, we respect the independence of the advocate general in Scotland whilst… we disagree with the drug consumption rooms elsewhere because we think they condone illegal drug use, and that’s not something that we think is right.”
Asked if he believes such a measure will help the problem of drug addiction, Mr Sunak said: “We don’t, and we think they condone illegal use and that’s what they run the risk of doing.”
Scotland’s drug and alcohol policy minister Elena Whitham said: “We know that safer drug consumption facilities are not a silver bullet, but evidence from more than 100 facilities worldwide show that they work – and I hope that the Prime Minister remains open to listening to that evidence from both experts and campaigners.
“While the service would still be limited to some extent, due to the Misuse of Drugs Act reserved to Westminster, we are confident it will save lives.
“Through our £250 million national mission, we are doing everything within our powers to tackle drug deaths in Scotland. However, the number of deaths is still too high and we must use every means at our disposal as we face future challenges, including the increasing threat from synthetic opioids.”
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