A controversial plan for public rooms where addicts can inject drugs has been scrapped.
The widely-criticised drug consumption rooms (DCR) were being considered by the Independent Drugs Commission for Brighton and Hove but the idea was axed yesterday.
The commission, brought together by Brighton MP Caroline Lucas and chaired by crime writer Peter James, decided the DCR “were not an appropriate measure at this time”.
An expert group made up of the city’s public agencies, including the police, probation service, the voluntary sector, the city council and NHS explored the feasibility of the DCR – a safe space supervised by health professionals to minimise the risks of overdose, unsafe practices and contaminated drug-taking equipment.
But the commission’s vice-chairman Mike Trace said: “Although, after careful consideration, the response by the working group was that the time is not right to pilot a drug consumption room in the city, we believe the detailed feasibility study undertaken will ensure a strong evidence-base to inform decision-making on whether a local DCR should be deployed in the future.”
The idea was formerly slammed by ex-Chief Superintendent at Sussex Police Graham Bartlett, who said the city was not ready for the DCR, having visited one in Germany for a documentary.
Mr Bartlett said: “I’m of the view that Brighton and Hove is not in a position that requires spending vast amounts of money on these rooms which take years to set up.
“I think the commission have done really well to identify that and it proves there’s a real energy to combat the drug problem in the city in a more effective way, which will ultimately save lives.”
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne also opposed the so called “shooting galleries”, claiming they would effectively be asking police to turn a blind eye to people carrying class A drugs in the city.
Plans being implemented include training to administer life-saving overdose antidotes and more services for people who have mental health and drug problems.
Drug services for young people and adults are being separated on the commission’s advice so that younger users do not mix with more established users.
Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, said: “Drugs policy should be founded on the over-riding principle of reducing harm, both for users themselves and for wider society – any approach has to be led by the evidence about what works in practice.
“The commission, in its bold set of recommendations, has helped to further embed evidence-based approaches to drugs policy, prevention and treatment and it is why I offer my sincere thanks to its members who have given their professional time over the last two years.
“They have shown the way for future UK drugs policy – a rational, non-alarmist policy, where health, welfare, harm reduction and decisions based on evidence are deservedly the drivers in tackling drug addiction.”