Scottish Conservatives U-turn on opposition to drug consumption rooms

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross tells STV why his party has U-turned

Clinics where supervised drug addicts can inject themselves with clean needles will not be opposed by the Scottish Conservative leader - as he hopes the facilities could help to tackle the country's huge drug problem.

Douglas Ross told STV on Friday that although he still has "serious reservations" about 'drug consumption rooms', his party will not stand in the way of a pilot scheme if such a proposal is made by the Scottish government.

The Scottish Tories were the only party in the country who resolutely opposed the facilities, mainly because the UK government is against them. Now, Mr Ross urges the UK government not to block any pilot scheme.

What are drug consumption rooms?

Drug consumption rooms are clinics where addicts bring their own drugs and inject themselves with clean needles under supervision and with the offer of health checks.

Such clinics are already used in Canada, Australia and across Europe.

The users simply register at the clinic, then they’re allowed to bring their own drugs without facing arrest.

It’s safer than injecting in the streets and addicts also get help for any physical or mental health problems, as well as HIV tests.

What has Mr Ross said about his party's U-turn?

Although he still has reservations about drug consumption rooms, Mr Ross vowed to keep an open mind about how Scotland's astronomical drug death numbers should be tackled."We continue to face the highest drug deaths anywhere in Europe here in Scotland," he told STV.

"I think we've got to look at every option to stop people dying in Scotland as a result of drug misuse."

After being shown 'troubling' footage of drug users by ITV News in April, Mr Ross says he will review the evidence on drug consumption rooms

This video contains distressing images

He acknowledged that drug consumption rooms cannot alone solve the issue.

However, he added: "I'm not going to stand in the way of getting further evidence. I'm not going oppose a pilot, if that's what the Scottish government are going to bring forward."

Scotland needs "far better rehab facilities and treatment available", Mr Ross said, which is why consumption rooms have to go "hand-in-hand with my own member's Bill that I'm taking forward in the Scottish Parliament, a Right to Recovery Bill, to enshrine in law that everyone who wants support can get it".