While Scotland has always wanted the scheme to get the green light, it has divided the UK government, ITV News' Scotland Reporter Louise Scott explains
The UK’s first drug consumption room for users to take illegal drugs under medical supervision has been approved.
Plans for the £2.3 million facility in Glasgow's east end was approved by the area's council on Wednesday.
There will be medical staff on hand to monitor users as they take their own illegal drugs.
The rooms were first proposed in 2016 following an HIV outbreak in the nation's biggest city.
While Scotland has always wanted the scheme to get the green light, it has divided the UK government.
This came to a head earlier in September when the country's most senior law officer, Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC, announced it would not be “in the public interest” to prosecute people using such a facility.
The pilot project, planned for Hunter Street, is in the same building as a current drug treatment facility.
On Wednesday a Glasgow City Integration Joint Board, which includes NHS and council officials, approved the consumption room plans.
A report which went before the board said: “There is overwhelming international evidence which demonstrates that safer drug consumption facilities can improve the health, wellbeing and recovery of people who use the facility and reduce the negative impact that public injecting has on local communities and businesses.”
It highlights that following an HIV outbreak in the city, an assessment “found there are approximately 400 to 500 people injecting drugs in public places in Glasgow city centre on a regular basis”.
It adds: “Injecting in public spaces increases the risk of infection and other drug related harms, and also causes a risk to the public from discarded injecting equipment and needles.”
The Scottish Government backed the plans but some MSPs have raised concerns about the impact on the local area, including on businesses.
Earlier this month the UK government's secretary of state for Scotland told ITV Border he could have used licensing laws to block safe drug consumption rooms in Scotland, but he won't.
Alister Jack was speaking to Representing Border, after he told MPs that although he believes "there's no safe way to do drugs" he will allow the Scottish Government to run the pilot scheme.
Mr Jack told Scotland questions in the Commons: "Drug consumption rooms are not the easy solution that honourable members may think. There is no safe way to take illegal drugs.
"Drugs devastate lives, they ruin families, they damage communities, and the UK Government believes that the police and the procurator fiscal service should fully enforce the law.
"However, if the Scottish Government and Lord Advocate decide to proceed with a pilot on DCRs - drug consumption rooms - the UK Government will not intervene."
If you or someone you know is affected by the issues raised in this article, the following charities offer support:
Action of Addiction works across all areas of treatment, research, family support and professional education - 0300 330 0659
Frank offers confidential advice and information about drugs, their effects and the law - 0300 123 6600
Narcotics Anonymous offers support for anyone who wants to stop using drugs - 0300 999 1212
We Are With You supports people with drug, alcohol or mental health problems, and their friends and family
The UK Addiction Treatment Group offers free online information and guidance for prescription drug addiction as well as a 24/7 confidential helpline on 0808 274 8029.
You can also discuss addiction issues with your GP
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