A new report by Jarryd Bartle, a drug policy consultant and university lecturer, calls for Britain to introduce life-saving Drug Consumption Rooms:
Drug consumption rooms are an evidence-based harm reduction intervention which allow people who use illicit drugs to do so within a medically supervised environment.
The use of drug consumption rooms in other jurisdictions has been shown to reduce drug-related deaths, reduce health burdens and decrease public injection and syringe litter.
Supervised Drug Consumption Rooms are effective at engaging hard to reach, highly marginalised populations with drug treatment, healthcare and other services. People in treatment use less illegal heroin and other drugs, potentially reducing the scale of the illegal drugs market.
Concerns that drug consumption rooms will increase drug use, attract substance users to an area or increase local crime are not supported by research.
A large majority (89%) of drug users are willing to use a drug consumption room.
The UK is falling behind the rest of the world, including countries such as Australia, Canada, Denmark and France which are increasingly adopting drug consumption rooms as part of drug harm reduction strategies.
This paper recommends that the UK prioritises the introduction of an integrated drug consumption room in an area identified as being of increased risk of drug-related harms.
Drug consumption rooms currently sit in a legal gray zone, leading to a lack of willingness by local authorities to introduce this proven harm reduction strategy. This could be addressed by:
1. An explicit statement by the Home Office that the operation of DCRs is a matter for local authorities; specific rules could then be agreed by police forces, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), health bodies and local authorities; and
2. The UK Parliament passing legislation that makes it explicitly legal to take controlled substances within such facilities in specified circumstances.