Calls increase for more ‘drugs rooms’ after needles on seafront
Dorset’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) is requesting the introduction of supervised drug consumption rooms (DCRs). PCC Martyn Underhill was among the group of PCCs who recently wrote a letter of support for the scheme to the home secretary, Sajid David.
DCRs provide a safe environment for drug users to inject using sterilised equipment and receive medical assistance. Internationally, the facilities have been successful in reducing the number of deaths due to overdoses. They have also curbed littering from needles and other problems that come with using drugs in public, as well as increasing the enrolment of addicts in drug treatment programs. In the letter, Underhill wrote that DCRs could also help shrink the size of the market for illegal drugs in the long term. Seven PCCs and a group of 13 peers and MPs signed the letter.
The home office had blocked establishing DCRs in the UK because it feared that the facilities would condone the use of drugs, but Underhill wrote that the fears were unfounded. DCRs are currently in use in 16 countries worldwide, and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction reports that the facilities have been operational in Europe for the past 30 years.
The renewed calls for establishing DCR trials resulted from the increased collection of used needles from Weymouth Esplanade. Last year, the Office of National Statistics reported that Weymouth had experienced some of the highest numbers of deaths in the UK from the misuse of morphine and heroin. Local officials had called for providing a location in the town where addicts could safely inject drugs to help reduce the number of deaths from overdoses.