Myself and other SNP politicians representing Glasgow have written to the Home Secretary to call on the UK government to urgently fund a pilot safe consumption facility in Glasgow, following recommendations from a report from Westminster's Home Affairs Committee.
The Home Affairs Committee report suggested that hygienic, safe, and secure consumption rooms could help to reduce harm and deaths associated with illicit drug use, and recommended the scheme be piloted in Glasgow - a step that the SNP has repeatedly called for.
The report also called for drugs policy to sit within the Department of Health and Social Care alongside the Home Office, so that targeted public health interventions can be used to reduce patterns of illicit drugs use in the long term.
By ensuring that those who use illicit drugs can do so in a safe and supervised environment, we can remove the stigma that so often prevents people from accessing the help they need and offer a route to recovery.
Signed by 13 Glasgow SNP politicians, our letter says that tackling problematic drugs use requires "bold and courageous" thinking and argues that, if the UK government ignores the report's recommendations and continues to block Scotland's ability to implement life-saving work, the relevant powers should be devolved to Holyrood so action can be taken.
Too many lives are still being lost to drug misuse, and we need direct, bold and courageous thinking if we want to turn the tide on these statistics.
The SNP has called for the funding of safe consumption facilities for years. Westminster needs to take heed of the committee's recommendations and start treating problematic drugs use like the public health emergency that it is.
If the UK Government is not willing to take the bold measures needed, they should at least devolve the appropriate powers to Scotland so that we can set our own policy.
Read the full letter below:
The Rt Hon Suella Braverman MP
Secretary of State for the Home Department
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF
Thursday 7 September 2023
Dear Home Secretary,
As Members of The Scottish Parliament and UK Parliament from across the City of Glasgow, we are writing to urge you to urgently act on the conclusion of the recent Drugs report from the Home Affairs Committee which calls on the UK Government to fund a pilot safe consumption facility in Glasgow and create a legislative pathway to enable more across the UK.
While limited progress has been made within the UK towards tackling problematic drugs use and the stigma that accompanies it, as demonstrated by the UK Government's latest drugs strategy 'From Harm to Hope: A 10-Year drugs plan to cut crime and save lives', much more can and needs to be done to create a caring, compassionate and human rights focused approach to reduce stigma and ultimately save lives.
It is our view, and the view of experts, that problematic drug use should be treated as a health issue, and not a criminal one - as it is already being treated as such by the Scottish Government. This reduces the stigma and discrimination so often associated with use and allows people to get appropriate help and recover without additional social barriers.
In that vein, funding safe consumption spaces (specifically the proposed pilot in Glasgow) is an important step to ensure a hygienic and secure environment in which trained staff are on site to supervise the injecting of illicit drugs.
Aside from reducing the risks associated with syringe sharing, research has also shown the prevalence of safe consumption facilities has a positive impact on people who use illicit drugs and crime rates in the area. Moreover, there is no evidence that the availability of safer drug consumption facilities increases drug use or the frequency of injecting.
Therefore, we are writing to express our strong support of the Home Affairs Committee's recommendations and to call on you to immediately pilot a safe consumption facility in Glasgow.
If your government continues to refuse to progress this issue and block Scotland's ability to implement the important actions needed to tackle the drug crisis and save lives, we urge you to devolve the relevant powers to Holyrood.
Too many lives are still being lost to problematic drugs use and tackling this requires bold and courageous thinking. Whilst Scotland is making progress using the limited powers of devolution, with most recent statistics showing the biggest year on year reduction in drugs deaths since records began, we need the UK Government to do more work with us to introduce harm reduction methods.
We look forward to your response.
Kaukab Stewart MSP for Glasgow Kelvin
Humza Yousaf MSP for Glasgow Pollok
Nicola Sturgeon MSP for Glasgow Southside
Bill Kidd MSP for Anniesland
John Mason MSP for Shettleston
James Dornan MSP for Glasgow Cathcart
Bob Doris MSP for Maryhill and Springburn
David Linden MP for Glasgow East
Alison Thewliss MP for Glasgow Central
Stewart McDonald MP for Glasgow South
Chris Stephens MP for Glasgow South West
Carol Monaghan MP for Glasgow North West
Anne McLaughlin MP for Glasgow North East
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