Monday 18th September 2023,
North Edinburgh Community News

Edinburgh drug consumption room trial looks set to go ahead


Plans to trial a safer drug consumption room in Edinburgh look set to go ahead after it was confirmed users of one proposed in Glasgow would not be charged.

In a major development last week Scotland’s Lord Advocate said it “would not be in the public interest” to prosecute for simple possession offences.

Westminster followed by saying it would not intervene in plans by Glasgow to open a drug consumption room.

It means proposals for a pilot consumption room in the capital – previously hampered by legal difficulties – are now far more likely to become a reality, potentially within months. 

The results of a feasibility study looking into the “local appetite” for such a facility, where one could open and its potential to reduce harm are set to be presented to councillors later this month. 

Councillor Finlay McFarlane, who called for the study to be undertaken, said the announcement last week was a “massive step” forward.  

He said: “I would hope we aren’t talking too long term about implementation. 

“That’s also for us as politicians to really drive this forward. We need to see that study, take a beat to consider it and what it recommends and then proceed with full speed as far as I’m concerned.” 

Figures published last month showed that whilst drug deaths fell across Scotland last year, they rose slightly in Edinburgh with 113 recorded, up from 109 the year before. 

Those who support opening facilities where people can inject drugs under supervision, also called Overdose Prevention Centre (OPCs), say they have the potential to be life-saving and are essential to tackling Scotland’s drug death rate, which remains the highest in Europe. 

However critics argue they would encourage drug use and that funding would be better directed toward addiction services. 

Ant Lehane from harm reduction charity Cranstoun said a typical OPC with seven booths could do around 143 injections a day. “Given that I don’t believe anyone’s ever died in an OPC before, that’s quite a significant number.”

It is understood the findings from the report will form the basis of a proposal to set-up a drug consumption room pilot, most likely in the city centre, which would be put to Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain like Glasgow’s to get confirmation users would not be prosecuted. 

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