'Shooting galleries': The drug plan that could be too liberal even for Brighton

Plans for Britain’s first legal ‘consumption rooms’ are unsettling the resort widely touted as a prime location

Britain could see its first so-called “shooting gallery” – somewhere drug addicts can legally use heroin and crack without fear of arrest – open within the year, under controversial plans.

The bold plan is already proving controversial in Brighton, with the seaside city being pinpointed as a possible location for the inaugural centre by an independent drugs commission, headed up by Tony Blair’s former drug-tsar Mike Trace and the crime writer Peter James.

Among the results of an extensive report by the commission, published on Thursday, is a call for legal “drug consumption rooms” where addicts can inject without fear of reprisal. The aim: to “reduce drug-related harm to the addict and the community”.

Already operating in 10 countries around the world, including Canada, Australia, Germany and Spain, drug consumption rooms vary in their exact model. Addicts are given free heroin and clean needles to ensure quality control and reduce blood-borne viruses in some centres, while others restrict access to local residents and require identification cards. A small number of facilities only allow those who inject drugs and reject other users.

Details of a British centre are yet to be ironed out, but already concerns have been raised in Brighton, despite hopes that the generally liberal residents (about 2,000 of whom are battling drug addiction) would be more open to the idea.

Resident Adam Kemeny, 36, thinks a retreat for serious users is the last thing the city needs. “I don’t like the idea of it becoming more of a destination for addicts than it already feels like it is,” he said.

For local MP Caroline Lucas, who instigated the commission a year ago, the answer is unfortunately simple – because this liberal East Sussex enclave has the market. “For some Brighton has a holiday air of tolerance,” she said. “For whatever reason we do have the unwanted unofficial title of Drugs Death Capital of England,” she said

In fact, in the past couple of years, Brighton has slipped back from the No 1 spot for drug-related deaths. A report published earlier this year by the International Centre for Drug Policy showed the rate had fallen from 16 per 100,000 adults in 2010, to nine in 2011. It now ranks eighth, with Manchester first.

Brighton resident Jack Murray, 29, said he would support anything that got users off the streets. “Addicts being arrested for minor drug possession is a waste of time and money, plus who wants to watch someone smoking rocks or shooting up on the street?”

For the commission, which also focuses on the need to knit together mental health and drug services so that people who have problems on both sides don’t fall between the cracks, this is all part of a greater plan. As results from abroad have demonstrated, sanctioned sites for drug users can minimise drug-related deaths and needle littering.

Critics in Sydney have claimed that drug-related loitering and dealing worsened near their centre. But for Ms Lucas, who has represented Brighton Pavillion since 2010 and whose Green Party is calling for an urgent review of the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act, something has to change. “The Government’s approach to drug policy is evidence-free... Prohibition isn’t working,” she says.

She is reticent to be tied down to where exactly in Brighton these drug consumption centres should be – a sticking point for parents who fear the idea of addicts near schools or playgrounds, and residents and businesses who don’t want drug users in their neighbourhoods.

The vice-chairman of the commission, Mike Truce, said: “If the centre was inconsiderately located, it certainly wouldn’t get our support.”

“This is not just about getting activity off the street but about engaging with individuals and getting them into treatment,” he added.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
Man taking selfie in front of car
health
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Frozen out: despite being filmed in Iceland, 'Fortitude' is set further north, in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard
tvGerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Life and Style
Carmen Khu from The Royal China Club pours a cup of Dai-Hong-Po tea
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Manager - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This web-based lead generation ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore