Alister Jack will 'allow' drug consumption rooms pilot in Scotland

Alister Jack Credit: PA

The Scottish Secretary has told ITV Border that 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 a pilot scheme in Glasgow.

The Dumfries and Galloway MP said ministers at Holyrood now have "no more excuses" to act after he made the commitment in the House of Commons.

SNP MPs had pressed the Westminster Government to outline its position after Scotland's Lord Advocate paved the way for such a facility to be established.

Dorothy Bain KC made clear that prosecuting the users of such a facility for simple drugs possession charges would "not be in the public interest".

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."

On Monday, First Minister Humza Yousaf stressed the need to "drive forward with a pilot with urgency" given Scotland's high drug deaths rate.

New figures reported on Tuesday showed suspected drug deaths rose in the first six months of this year.

Statistics published by the Scottish Government showed there were 600 such fatalities over the period January to June - with this total 7% higher than the same time in 2022.

SNP MP Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central) told the PA news agency: "The confirmation from Alister Jack that the UK Government will not intervene to prevent a pilot overdose prevention site in Glasgow is welcome, if long overdue."

The Scottish Secretary also told Representing Border the Conservative Party's next election manifesto should include a commitment to maintain the triple lock on pensions.

At Prime Minister's Questions Rishi Sunak did not make that pledge, however when pressed on the issue, Alister Jack claimed the Prime Minister "said we introduced the triple lock and we will be maintaining the triple lock. He gave that answer, and we were the party that introduced it, and we're not walking away from it."