Drug deaths Scotland: Funding for drug consumption rooms is protected, says Scottish minister

Elena Whitham is due to make a statement on drug deaths at the Scottish Parliament

Scotland’s drugs policy minister says she will not cut back other services to fund a new drug consumption room in Glasgow.

Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC on Monday said it would not be in the public interest to prosecute users for possession offences within a drug consumption room, something First Minister Humza Yousaf has called a “significant” statement.

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This comes after Westminster’s home affairs committee recommended a drug consumption room is piloted in Glasgow in a bid to bring down drug death rates. Last year 1,051 people died as a result of drug misuse in Scotland – the highest death rate in Europe.

Drug Policy Minister Elena Whitham. Image: John Devlin.Drug Policy Minister Elena Whitham. Image: John Devlin.
Drug Policy Minister Elena Whitham. Image: John Devlin.

The UK Government says it remains opposed to the idea. Later on Tuesday, drugs policy minister Elena Whitham is due to make a statement on the matter in the Scottish Parliament.

Speaking on BBC Good Morning Scotland, she said the money to fund a drug consumption room was already protected.

Ms Whitham said: “This is a significant moment in terms of our capacity to reduce harm from drugs and save lives, so we welcome the Lord Advocate’s position. We need to be clear, this doesn’t change the law, all it does is set out the prosecution policy.

“Someone going to and from this facility will still be subjected to the same laws everyone else is subjected to.”

Ms Whitham said consumption rooms were just one of a number of measures that could be taken in Scotland to help problematic drug use, adding she agreed in principle with the Conservatives’ calls to increase the number of residential rehab beds.

She said: “Eventually I would like to see these facilities, wherever they are needed, and get as many people as possible into them as we can. The budget for this has been protected for some time now, and any suggestion that it’s not the case is simply not true.

“We are working with a constrained budget, but extra money has been made available to alcohol and drug partnerships to fund everything we’ve set out in our national mission.

“I will not be cutting back any services to fund drug consumption rooms. That has always been protected.”



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