Brighton's drug addicts to be given 'safe haven' to take heroin
Charlotte Philby is a writer at The Independent with a weekly column on motherhood in The Independent Magazine. She was shortlisted for the 2013 Cudlipp award for excellence in popular journalism for her undercover investigative work, and writes for various cultural magazines.
Sunday 14 April 2013
Drug users could be offered safe havens to take heroin or crack without fear of prosecution, under new proposals.
The idea of sanctioned "drug consumption rooms" has been put forward by an independent commission in Brighton, following the success of so-called "shooting galleries" in European countries including Switzerland.
The crime writer Peter James and former drugs tsar Mike Trace, who led the commission instigated by local Green MP Caroline Lucas, will meet the city's public health leaders next week to discuss the plans.
They have recommended a feasibility study into a project they claim could significantly reduce overdose death rates among more than 2,000 seriously addicted heroin and crack users in the city.
The proposed safe rooms, which will be considered at Brighton's health and wellbeing board at their next meeting in June, follow a string of calls for alternative solutions to blanket prohibition in the past decade.
Last year, a report by the Home Affairs Select Committee called for urgent piloting of drug consumption rooms. Unlike so-called "shooting galleries", where there is no professional supervision, these rooms would have medical supervision
In 2006 a separate report by an Independent Working Group supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation concluded that DCRs should be piloted in the UK, offering a "unique and promising way to help lessen fatal overdoses".
Drug consumption rooms have seen overwhelmingly positive results operating in more than 90 of countries around the world.
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