Green light for drug addicts to inject heroin in Scots ‘shooting galleries’
- Country’s chief law officer said users won’t be prosecuted for taking drugs in so-called ‘consumption rooms’
- Critics warned the controversial move would pave the way for facilities for facilities to let people inject
- Move comes as Scotland continues to have worst drug death rates in whole of UK
A CONTROVERSIAL heroin shooting gallery is set to be introduced after Scotland’s top law officer said people using drugs in the facility would not be prosecuted.
Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain yesterday announced she would be prepared to confirm that ‘simple possession offences’ would not be prosecuted within such a facility if it was set up by the Scottish Government.
In light of this, First Minister Humza Yousaf said he would take forward plans for a pilot in Glasgow ‘with urgency’ – despite drug laws being reserved to Westminster.
The Home Office confirmed it remained opposed to such a move and stressed ‘there is no safe way to take illegal drugs’.
It is understood UK ministers believe a range of offences in addition to possession would be committed by users and staff at a drug consumption room.
Staff could be liable for offences such as aiding and abetting someone to commit a crime, and could even be held liable in the event of a death.
In a carefully worded statement, Ms Bain said: ‘I would be prepared to publish a prosecution policy that it would not be in the public interest to prosecute drug users for simple possession offences committed within a pilot safer drugs consumption facility.
‘I have not been asked to sign-off or approve any facility and it would not be appropriate for me to do so. However, prosecution policy is for me alone to set and this policy, and the consequences which flow from it, have been considered deeply and thoroughly.’
But she said the statement ‘will not extend to any criminal offences other than possession of controlled substances… it does not amount to an exclusion zone whereby a range of criminality is tolerated’.
Ms Bain added: ‘Police Scotland have operational independence and it has been of the utmost importance to me to ensure Police Scotland retain the ability to effectively police the facility and ensure the wider community, those operating the site and those using the facility can be kept safe.’
Asked if the pilot scheme could proceed without Home Office approval, Mr Yousaf said: ‘That’s my understanding, that we would given the statement of prosecution policy just initiated by the Lord Advocate.
‘I should say, there will be limitations in terms of a pilot, so the best option for us would be if the UK Government gave approval or devolved the powers to us to be able to give approval. But I certainly think that the prosecution policy articulated by the Lord Advocate certainly helps us to move forward.’
However, a Home Office spokesman said last night: ‘There is no safe way to take illegal drugs, which devastate lives, ruin families and damage communities and we have no plans to consider this.’
Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie said: ‘It is important to note that existing legislation will not be changing and, while we may take an overall supportive policing approach, police officers will still be bound by their legal duty to uphold the law and will not be able to simply ignore acts of criminality which they see occurring.’