Renewed calls to end 'go-slow' on drug consumption rooms in Scotland in wake of Budget cut

Labour has called on the Scottish Government to move faster in setting up safe consumption facilities for drug users.

Labour MSP Paul O'Kane said ministers in Edinburgh were being "too slow, too timid" in taking action on drugs deaths.

Safe consumption facilities, where drugs are taken under medical supervision, have long been suggested as a method of tackling harm from drugs.

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But there are legal barriers to such plans and the UK Government is not in favour of them. Some areas of drug law are reserved to Westminster.

A drug user prepares cocaine before injecting. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

However, Scotland's Lord Advocate, Dorothy Bain KC, has said there is a legal route to pursuing them north of the border.

In a letter to drugs policy minister Angela Constance, Mr O'Kane asked if a pilot project was being developed and if Police Scotland would receive guidance on the matter.

He also asked for the rationale behind a Budget cut exclusively revealed by The Scotsman on Saturday in which it was confirmed £1 million had been trimmed from the Government's alcohol and drugs allocation.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced the cut, which went unnoticed due to being buried as part of a wider £13m reduction to sport and “health improvement funding”.

Mr O'Kane said: "Scotland's drugs death crisis is a national emergency, but this SNP Government is too slow, too timid.

"An underwhelming response will not do. Warm words are no substitute for substantive action to tackle the issue and save lives.

"Years on, from the declaration of a national emergency, progress has been painfully slow – and now we hear that the SNP is set to cut more funds from the Budget. This is a dangerous and potentially deadly cut that exposes the SNP's hollow rhetoric on this issue.

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"That's why today I have written to Angela Constance asking for answers over the progress to safe consumption rooms and the rationale for their wrongheaded cut.

"The go-slow must end. It's time for Constance and her Government to put their rhetoric into action and save lives."

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.

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