HUMZA Yousaf and Nicola Sturgeon have joined Glasgow politicians urging the Home Secretary to fund a pilot safe consumption room in the city.

Following recommendations from the Westminster’s Home Affairs Committee that a pilot should be given the green light by UK ministers, the First Minister and 12 other SNP politicians in the city reiterated their call for the scheme to be given the go-ahead.

The Home Office has repeatedly refused to allow a safe consumption facility to be established in Scotland, as drug law powers are reserved to Westminster.

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The Home Affairs Committee also said in its report that if the Home Office continued to refuse to sign off on the pilot, drug laws should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

The committee also called for drugs policy to sit within the Department of Health and Social Care alongside the Home Office, so that targeted public health interventions can be used to reduce patterns of illicit drugs use in the long term.

It comes after the Scottish Government published a paper arguing for the decriminalisation of drugs for personal use and to allow safe consumption rooms to be brought in, as part of a bid to tackle Scotland’s drug deaths.

The Scottish Government also supports and approaches drug misuse as a health rather than a criminal matter.

Meanwhile, Alba said the SNP have "not been paying attention" to efforts made by the NHS Glasgow and Clyde health board, as similar approaches to safe consumption rooms are already in place. 

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The letter to Home Secretary Suella Braverman (above), signed by 13 Glasgow politicians, said that tackling problematic drug use required “bold and courageous” thinking.

“It is our view, and the view of experts, that problematic drug use should be treated as a health issue, and not a criminal one - as it is already being treated as such by the Scottish Government,” it reads.

“This reduces the stigma and discrimination so often associated with use and allows people to get appropriate help and recover without additional social barriers.

“In that vein, funding safe consumption spaces (specifically the proposed pilot in Glasgow) is an important step to ensure a hygienic and secure environment in which trained staff are on-site to supervise the injecting of illicit drugs.”

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The politicians set out the risks associated with syringe sharing and said that research has shown safe consumption rooms has had a “positive impact” on those who use drugs as well as local crime rates.

“Moreover, there is no evidence that the availability of safer drug consumption facilities increases drug use or the frequency of injecting,” the letter continued.

“Therefore, we are writing to express our strong support of the Home Affairs Committee’s recommendations and to call on you to immediately pilot a safe consumption facility in Glasgow.

“If your government continues to refuse to progress this issue and block Scotland’s ability to implement the important actions needed to tackle the drug crisis and save lives, we urge you to devolve the relevant powers to Holyrood.”

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Holyrood politicians First Minister Yousaf (above), MSP for Glasgow Pollock, Sturgeon, MSP for Glasgow Southside, Kaukab Stewart, MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, Bill Kidd, MSP for Anniesland, John Mason, MSP for Shettleston, James Dornan, MSP for Glasgow Cathcart, Bob Doris, MSP for Maryhill and Springburn, were all signatories on the letter.

They were joined by Westminster representatives for the city David Linden, MP for Glasgow East, Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, Stewart McDonald, MP for Glasgow South, Chris Stephens, MP for Glasgow South West, Carol Monaghan, MP for Glasgow North West, and Anne McLaughlin, MP for Glasgow North East.

Commenting on the letter, Glasgow Kelvin MSP Stewart (below) said: “Far too many lives in Scotland are still being lost to drug misuse, and we need direct, bold and courageous thinking if we want to turn the tide on these statistics.

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“While the most recent drugs deaths statistics showed a small improvement, much work is still urgently needed.

“For years now the SNP has called for the funding of safe consumption facilities so that people who use illicit drugs can do so in a safe and supervised environment, which removes the stigma that so often prevents people from accessing the help they need and now, a Tory-led committee agrees.

“Westminster needs to take heed of their committee’s recommendations and start treating problematic drugs use like the public health emergency that it is.

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“If not, they should at least devolve the appropriate powers to Scotland so that we can make our own policy and implement safe consumption facilities so that people involved with illicit drugs are treated with the compassion and respect they deserve.”

Chris McEleny, Alba's general secretary, said that while NHS GGC is "far from perfect" it has implemented a number of "innovative approaches" to tackle drug deaths and improve harm reduction, including the Enhanced Drug Treatment Facility. 

"This service aims to reduce the harms associated with high-risk heroin addiction, as well as improve health and social outcomes while offering those that use the service an opportunity to discuss wider care needs with people as they engage with treatment," he said. 

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"This is the first service in Scotland to offer Heroin Assisted Treatment to people with severe opioid dependence who have been unable to engage with mainstream treatment options. The service provides fully supervised injectable diamorphine to those who suffer from severe opioid dependence and offers support to a population with severe and multiple disadvantages and complex needs. 

"There is no need for immediate legislative changes to allow Scotland to fully and properly implement harm reduction measures such as supervised drug consumption facilities - because they are already happening by using drugs which are available on the NHS in Scotland."

A Home Office spokesperson said: “There is no safe way to take illegal drugs, which devastate lives, ruin families and damage communities and we have no plans to consider this.

“We continue to share learnings with the Scottish Government and exchange insights from initiatives aimed at addressing drug use and harms at Ministerial and official level. We welcome these ongoing discussions.”