- Plans to create a unit in Glasgow for drug addicts have been approved
- It hopes to tackle drug-related deaths and the spread of infections
- There have been three trials across Britain that provided free heroin
- But this will be the first state-sanctioned injecting facility in the country
Drug addicts are set to get heroin on the NHS, in Britain’s first ‘shooting gallery’.
For the first time the health service will prescribe pharmaceutical-grade heroin for free and provide a place to take it.
Plans were approved yesterday for the facility in Glasgow city centre, raising fear more will follow across the country.
Already, there have been three trials in London, Darlington and Brighton, providing free heroin, although this will be the first state-sanctioned injecting facility.
Plans were approved yesterday for Britain’s first ‘shooting gallery’ in Glasgow city centre, raising fears more will follow across the country
Lucy Dawe, from charity Cannabis Skunk Sense, said: ‘This is tantamount to drug dealing by the state. I can’t see it’s going to reduce the number of addicts, it just gives them somewhere to go.’
Calls to follow the Netherlands and Belgium in bringing ‘shooting galleries’ to Britain have previously been rejected by government ministers.
But the plans have been justified in Scotland as a bid to cut drug deaths. Addicts will not be prosecuted and the unit could even have a crèche, laundry facilities or somewhere for them to tie up their pets.
It comes despite previous UK trials showing people given heroin on the NHS still take street drugs and that it has no impact on crime or their health.
The health board insists only a small number of drug users would be allowed heroin on the NHS, although officials admit as many as 500 drug users who inject in public places within Glasgow city centre would fall within the remit of its plans.
For the first time the health service will prescribe pharmaceutical-grade heroin for free and provide a place to take it
Members of the Glasgow City Integration Joint Board – made up of councillors, police and health providers – agreed to develop a business case for the unit. Full details will be returned to a board meeting next February.
Glasgow Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins said: ‘This concept will not sit easily with many people, particularly those who think we should be making it more difficult for addicts to source drugs, rather than facilitate it.
‘Some will believe this is merely waving the white flag in the face of the war on drugs.
‘But what’s key now, if this does go ahead, is that there is irrefutable proof within a year that the scheme is saving lives, and reducing the number of people dependent on heroin in Glasgow. If not, it has to be abandoned at once.’
A similar facility is being considered by councillors in Dundee.
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