Not for the first time in Scotland or indeed Glasgow, there have been calls to introduce safer consumption rooms to tackle drugs deaths.

The latest push for such a facility to be opened – or at least trialled – was made at the Scottish Drugs Death Conference at the SEC on Wednesday.

Among the experts on hand to talk about the rooms were Martin Powell, head of partnerships at the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, and Dr Saket Priyadarshi, associate medical director for addictions at Glasgow Alcohol and Drug Recovery Services.

READ MORE: Susan Aitken calls for bold action to tackle Scottish drug deaths emergency

What are these rooms?

Safer consumption rooms are facilities where people who inject drugs do so inside a safe environment under supervision.

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Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken led calls for the rooms on Wednesday, saying Glasgow has to "be bold and innovative" and is ready for a trial to be approved.

Powell said the facilities "aren't rocket science", labelling them "a very sensible, pragmatic approach to a real problem".

What happens in them?

People will go in, give a name of their choice, be given clean equipment and move over to an injection booth – described by Powell as being similar to a library study booth but with mirrors and bright lights.

They will then use the drugs under supervision and be given safer injection advice – if anything goes wrong they will be given a heroin antidote to prevent them from dying.

The National: Heroin overdose kits will be availableHeroin overdose kits will be available

Afterwards, they will move to a recovery area to sit and have a cup of tea.

Powell highlighted the importance of this to build trust, start talking about treatments and "looking at the other problems ... to get to grips with why they are on the streets injecting heroin in the first place".

Why might they be needed?

Glasgow accounted for around a third of Scotland's 1187 drug deaths in 2018 – among Europe's highest and the most in the UK.

Priyadarshi said: "We actually have a well-developed system of care and harm reduction services.

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"One of the evidence-based interventions we don't have in the city is a safer drug consumption facility."

At the conference, Aitken said "previous efforts to address the issues around injecting drug use have floundered" and "new approaches are now necessary".

Who can benefit from them?

Daniel Carter, a public health consultant for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, told the conference there are an estimated 11,900 people who are problem drug users and approximately 400 to 500 people injecting in public in the city centre.

It is figures like this that are believed to have led to an HIV outbreak of around 170 cases in the city.

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Carter estimated 40 to 50 new cases have emerged each year since the outbreak started in 2015.

Priyadarshi also said the evidence from consumption rooms elsewhere suggests wider benefits with "reducing the extend of public injecting and drug-related litter that exists within the cities".

Where else are they in place?

According to Powell, there are more than 150 worldwide with 43 in Canada alone – opened over a three-year period across the country having a similar death rate to Scotland.

They helped save 230 lives Meanwhile in British Columbia over a 20 month-period.

The National: Martin PowellMartin Powell

He estimated with those statistics "you'd be looking at something like 20-30 lives saved from the drug consumption room alone" in Scotland.

Powell highlighted the importance of the facility being part of a wider framework.

Why are they not in place here already?

The Home Office has refused to allow the facilities in Glasgow.

Priyadarshi told the conference the rooms require licensing for premises and doctors involved, and at the moment opening such a facility would not be legal until such framework was delivered.

The National: Mhairi HunterMhairi Hunter

Glasgow councillor Mhairi Hunter suggested there was "political consensus across the council and the rest of its elected members" for their introduction as well as with health board officials.

Is there anything similar like them around?

Scotland's first addictions service has been treating patients with pharmaceutical-grade heroin in Glasgow city centre since the end of last year.

The £1.2 million facility housing the Enhanced Drug Treatment Service was licensed by the Home Office to run alongside existing homelessness health services, like the safer consumption rooms would.

READ MORE: Safe drug consumption rooms are ‘effective’, admits Tory MSP

A specialist team is supported by other health and social care services with patients required to be committed to the treatment and having to attend the centre twice a day, seven days a week where they also receive holistic assessment.

When would a safer consumption room open and for how long?

Powell said it would not be an overnight operation and if given the go-ahead it would still take several months to get the facilities in place.

He added opening times vary from place to place but ideally it would be available to people for eight to 12 hours a day - and categorically ruled out a 24-hour facility.

In comparison, the Enhanced Drug Treatment Service is open from 9am to 5pm.