THE campaign for drug consumption rooms to be legalised has been backed by police chiefs in England and Wales.

Force bosses south of the border have called on the Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Victoria Atkins (pictured, right), to drop the Home Office’s resistance to the so-called shooting galleries, that would allow drug users to bring substances into a safe place where they could be taken in a controlled manner, with access to clean equipment and medical help.

Alison Thewliss, the MP for Glasgow Central, who, along with the council and health board, has long campaigned for the Home Office to allow the city to open a safer drugs consumption facility (SDCF), welcomed the police boss’s intervention.

In a letter to Atkins, North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, Durham Commissioner Ron Hogg and West Midlands Commissioner David Jamieson said they were “deeply concerned” by the government’s continued opposition to the introduction of drug consumption rooms.

They wrote: “If the government was to allow a pilot site, based on a local needs assessment, to operate in the UK, we would be able to demonstrate what works locally. We are sure, like us, you want to see a reduction in drug related deaths, a reduction in health risks, fewer open drug scenes, improved cleanliness, reduced public insecurity related to drug use and an increase in services that support some of the most marginalised and vulnerable in society.”

Thewliss told the National: “The fact that senior figures in law enforcement are detailing that these facilities can save lives, and that drug addiction should be treated as a medical issue rather than a criminal one, should be serious food for thought for Ministers.”

She added: “For plans to progress, the UK Government must grant a legal exemption to enable service users and staff to attend and work in the facility without fear of prosecution. Without this, the scheme cannot be proceed.

“An increasing number of people are supportive of these plans, and the government cannot continue to ignore this problem. Indeed, the status quo is not only failing those with addictions, but the wider public in general”.

Last month all parties in the Scottish Parliament bar the Tories backed the proposal for a Glasgow DCR.

A Home Office spokesman said: “We must prevent drug use in our communities.”