Scottish Affairs Committee inquiry on drug use in Scotland begins hearing evidence

A panel of academics from universities in Glasgow and Stirling have given evidence at a hearing of the Scottish Affairs Committee’s inquiry into problem drug use in Scotland.

At the session at Westeminster, MPs heard that Glasgow has the “most compelling case in Europe” for a Safer Drug Consumption Room.

The city is currently experiencing an HIV outbreak among people who inject drugs and has the highest rate of drug related deaths ever recorded.

Last year there were 170 drug-related deaths in Glasgow, an increase in street-benzodiazepine consumption and also a rise in cocaine injecting.

The UK Government has not given permission for a proposed safer drug consumption facility to go ahead in Glasgow, despite extensive plans from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the city’s Health and Social Care Partnership.

At the hearing, Dr Andrew McAuley of Glasgow Caledonian University said:

“There is a whole host of reasons why Glasgow is the perfect case for the UK’s first Drug Consumption Room.”

He said there is a “growing consensus” the war on drugs approach has failed and the criminalisation of drug use has not worked.

Dr McAuley said: “A public health approach offers solutions at both individual and community level.”

His view was echoed by Professor Catriona Matheson of Stirling University, who told the panel that parts of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, while having benefits to pharmacists and police is a “barrier to intervention”.

Dr Emily Tweed, of Glasgow University said there is international evidence that Safer Drug Consumption Rooms work.

She said: “What these facilities are able to do is they reach the people most at risk.

“They reduce the risk of sharing needles and equipment and reduce public injecting and improve the uptake of services.”

Scottish Drugs Forum has submitted written evidence to the committee after consulting with members.

You can view the entire hearing below:

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