SCOTTISH Tory health spokesman Miles Briggs admitted yesterday that safe consumption rooms for drugs are “effective in tackling overdoses”, despite the UK Home Office blocking plans for a centre in Glasgow.

Briggs also called for cross-party action to tackle Scotland’s drug problem, after new figures revealed on Tuesday that 1187 people died of drug-related deaths last year.

His comments came after Scotland’s Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick had already appealed through The National for the Conservative UK Government to work with the Scottish Government on the issue, with drug policy reserved to Westminster.

SNP MSP and former health secretary Shona Robison said: “Supervised drug consumption rooms have been shown to work elsewhere in the world and could be a key tool to reducing deaths in Scotland. It is staggering that the Tories admit such an approach is effective in reducing overdoses – but still stubbornly oppose giving us the power to try.”


The National:

Briggs, above, appeared on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme yesterday. According to an SNP transcript, he was asked by the presenter: “Do you accept the evidence from countries like Canada, countries like Spain, that these drug consumption rooms do reduce deaths?”

Briggs replied: “I think personally that our Drug and Alcohol Partnerships, which were established to do this work, aren’t being given the resources to be able to effectively meet the demand ... ”

The presenter cut in: “That wasn’t the question I asked you, do you accept these drug consumption rooms reduce deaths? Because if you’ve got an open-minded approach to all of this then perhaps isn’t it time for you to be campaigning for the Home Office to change their minds?”

Briggs replied: “I don’t think they’re as effective in terms of trying to get addicts into services. I think what we’ve seen is they are effective in tackling overdoses.”

Briggs said he wants to see a cross-party summit, involving both the Scottish and UK Governments and opposition parties to develop actions for tackling drug deaths. He said: “It’s time we all rose to the challenge again, starting with a cross-party summit so we can begin a serious and detailed conversation about how to tackle this national emergency.

“This is a crisis that spans political divides, so we would hope that both Scottish and UK Governments are involved. What’s now vital is that all parties make this national emergency a national priority.”

The Scottish Conservatives also suggest allowing first-time convicted drug users to avoid a criminal record as long as they attend support services.

They want to see more money put into rehabilitation, recovery and abstinence and have also called for a review of the use of heroin substitute methadone.

The Scottish LibDems, meanwhile, have submitted a 10-point plan designed to curb drug and alcohol misuse. It includes calls for law changes to legalise and regulate cannabis; an increase in minimum alcohol unit pricing to 60p, and that people should not be sent to prison for possession of drugs for personal use.