SCOTTISH Labour leader Anas Sarwar has said he does not support the devolution of drug laws following a report from a Westminster committee calling for trials of safe consumption rooms to go ahead.

The Home Affairs Committee, chaired by Labour MP Diana Johnson, recommended that overdose prevention centres should form part of an overhaul of UK drug policy.

A report published by the committee said that if the UK Government refuses to support the pilot, then powers to do so should be devolved to the Scottish Government.

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However, the Home Office almost immediately rejected the cross-party calls and have previously said they would block any attempt for drug consumption room pilots in Scotland.

Speaking at an event in the Trades Hall in Glasgow, Sarwar (below) told journalists that the focus should be on investing in rehabilitation beds, adequate policing and focusing on the issue as a public health crisis rather than a criminal justice issue.

“Listen, I don't support the devolution of our drug laws because I think it's great to have consistency across the UK,” he said.

“But within that, I do add the caveat that the Lord Advocate has already indicated that we have opportunities in Scotland to do things differently.

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“We have the opportunity to do drug consumption rooms or at least pilots for drug assumptions in Scotland without devolving the law, it's about a presumption against prosecution, for example, being one part around possession as it is for safe consumption rooms.

“And I think that's the approach the Scottish Government and our Scottish legal system should be taking.”

Asked if a UK Labour government would support the Scottish Government and Lord Advocate to allow the pilots to go ahead, Sarwar accused Tory ministers of “playing politics” with the issue.

He said: “I think it goes back again to that cooperation or conflict approach. The UK Government and the Scottish Government should both have the political will to work constructively to deliver for the people of Scotland rather than attempting to manufacture fights for their own political ends.

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“I think there is a way forward here that allows us to pilot safe consumption rooms in Glasgow and other parts of the country that does not require the devolution of our drug laws.”

Sarwar said instead that what would be required is a “presumption against prosecution” as had been put forward by the Lord Advocate.

“I think that is a much more cooperative way forward if we are serious about tackling the issue,” he said.

“And let's be really clear about this – one drug death is one drug death too many, to have the highest level of drug deaths anywhere in Western Europe, anywhere in the UK, is completely and utterly unacceptable.

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“I'm sick and tired of politicians wanting to play politics with these people's lives rather than try to save these people’s lives.”

The Home Affairs Committee report recommended a safe consumption room pilot in Glasgow should be supported by Westminster and jointly funded by both governments.

Last week, figures from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) showed Scotland’s largest-ever fall in drug deaths to 1051 due to drug misuse in 2022, a drop of 279 from the previous year.

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But while the figure is now the lowest since 2017, the NRS report set out that the rate of deaths is still “much higher” than when data recording began in 1996.

“We recommend the Government support a pilot in Glasgow by creating a legislative pathway under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 that enables such a facility to operate legally,” the Westminster committee report published on Thursday said.

In response, the UK Government said there was “no safe way to take illegal drugs” and said they have “no plans to consider” the recommendation to allow a safe consumption room pilot to go ahead.