THE Scottish Government is committed to opening safe consumption rooms despite Westminster’s opposition, the drugs minister has said.

Speaking during a virtual Holyrood meeting on the “national shame” of Scotland’s drug deaths yesterday, Angela Constance told MSPs that “very detailed work” is going on in the Government to bring them in.

The latest figures from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) found drug deaths rose to 1339 in 2020 – up 5% on the previous year. The country has the worst drug death rate in Europe.

The UK Government has repeatedly blocked Scottish efforts to launch safe consumption spaces, with policing minister Kit Malthouse previously describing them as a “distraction”.

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Safe consumption rooms have been introduced in several other countries, with widespread evidence showing their benefit in reducing drug-related deaths.

The spaces are typically used to allow drug users to legally take substances under medical supervision, with the aim of reducing overdoses and offering support to those in need.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has brushed off calls for the spaces, saying he didn’t “want to do anything that would encourage the consumption of more drugs”.

Responding to a question from Scottish Greens MSP Gillian Mackay yesterday, Constance said: "This Government is firmly in support of the implementation of safe consumption rooms.

“Based on 30 years of evidence, there are 100 drug consumption rooms in 66 cities in 10 countries. They’re not the only solution but they do help to save lives.

“We are committed to implementing those, irrespective of the constitutional opportunities or the constitutional constraints that we face.”

The minister added that she is “cautiously encouraged” by current government work to introduce safe consumption rooms.

She went on: ”While I don’t as yet have a solution or proposition to put in front of Parliament, I want to assure Parliament that when it comes to implementing evidence-based interventions that will save lives, I believe, absolutely we will leave no stone unturned.”

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During her statement yesterday Constance also announced plans for a specialist residential rehabilitation facility to be built in North Ayrshire to provide treatment for up to 20 families at a time.

The Government will also consider whether alcohol and drugs services should be included in the proposed National Care Service, while a review has been commissioned into the use of so-called street benzos, which were identified in 73% of drug-related deaths last year.