Tom Arthur MSP outlines his support for the introduction of legislation to lawfully pilot a supervised drug consumption facility in Scotland following the publication of a report from the Scottish Affairs Committee.
The report, published on Monday, makes a series of recommendations following an extensive enquiry into drug use in Scotland, including highlighting the need for such a facility – stating that the move would help address the root causes of problem drug use, as well as reduce overdoses, deaths and lower infection rates.
Now, Renfrewshire South MSP Tom Arthur is backing calls urging UK ministers to reconsider their opposition to drug consumption rooms in Scotland in order to tackle the emergency Scotland faces in terms of drug deaths.
In the chamber yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 5 November), he asked Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, Joe Fitzpatrick MSP, to join him in condemning the shameful decisions of the UK Government to continually ignore evidence on a proposal that could save lives and to block a proposed pilot facility in Glasgow.
In his response, the Minister said:
“I absolutely call on the incoming UK government to mend the Misuse of Drugs Act or to devolve the powers which will allow this parliament to take a range of public health focused initiatives which will save lives. Clearly, these proposals could save lives across the United Kingdom.
“I think the UK Government should be taking a public health approach to drugs everywhere in the UK, but if they won’t do it, please devolve these powers to this parliament so we can make these decisions.”
Tom Arthur MSP added:
“There are over 20,000 people in Scotland with Hepatitis C, 10,000 of whom we believe have not been diagnosed. We know that HIV still remains a public health challenge. We know that drug consumption facilities can help us tackle both these public health challenges and ultimately save lives.
“This issue must be treated with the urgency that it warrants. Every drug death is preventable, and these centres could play a vital role in addressing Scotland’s drug crisis.”