Campaigners to demonstrate outside Edinburgh City Chambers urging council to provide safe drug facilities 

Members from Safe Consumption Edinburgh say providing safe spaces will save money and lives
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An Edinburgh organisation campaigning for safe consumption drug facilities in the capital will demonstrate outside the City Chambers this morning ahead of a full council meeting. 

Members from Safe Consumption Edinburgh (SCE), who will also make a deputation to full council today, are calling on the authority to provide safe consumption rooms and drug checking facilities which they say will save money and lives. 

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It comes after council officers agreed to look into the feasibility of an ‘Overdose Prevention Centre’ trial in June 2022. It is understood a feasibility study has been completed but not yet made available to councillors. Campaigners said they hope to engage with councillors ahead of the meeting and urge them to support independent councillor Ross McKenzie’s motion that calls for the study to be published by February 9 and set out a plan to roll out safe consumption facilities (SCF).

Safe Consumption Edinburgh campaigners staged a protest outside Edinburgh City Chambers in June 2023
Safe Consumption Edinburgh campaigners staged a protest outside Edinburgh City Chambers in June 2023
Safe Consumption Edinburgh campaigners staged a protest outside Edinburgh City Chambers in June 2023

Speaking to the Evening News ahead of the demonstration, Ruaraidh Dempster, SCE campaign coordinator said: “Drug deaths are not getting better in Scotland or in Edinburgh. In 2022 113 people died of drug related deaths in Edinburgh - that’s the equivalent of one person every three days. So this isn’t an issue to be ignored, it’s something that deeply affects working class communities.  

“At the moment drugs and drug deaths are very much treated as a criminal justice issue - it’s something that the police deal with and not something that health systems deal with and it’s not working. Safe consumption rooms in effect are a bridge for anyone suffering from drug addiction to get better access to housing, jobs and healthcare and provide them with a route to a better life.”

Mr Dempster added: “Safe consumption facilities have been proven to work in Portugal and many other countries.”

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Figures from the National Records of Scotland show that in 2022, 97 out of 113 Edinburgh drug deaths were attributed to accidental poisoning, nine to intentional self-poisoning, six to drug abuse and one was undetermined. Nearly 90 per cent of drug deaths were linked to opiate overdoses.

Last October, Glasgow City Council approved plans to run a three-year trail of a safe drugs consumption facility in the city’s east end to allow individuals suffering from drug addiction to take drugs including heroin and cocaine under the supervision of trained health professionals. The project is set to launch in the summer this year.

Councillor McKenzie’s motion notes the council previously agreed to “work with partners in health and criminal justice to provide a report to the policy and sustainability committee into the feasibility of supporting an official Overdose Prevention Centre trial in the City.” The motion requests that ‘the feasibility study will be published in full on the council’s website by the end of February 9’ and for a further report to be brought to the policy and sustainability committee on March 12 to allow ‘public discussion and scrutiny.’

Councillor McKenzie is also calling on council leader, Cammy Day to ‘request an urgent meeting with the Minister for Drugs and Alcohol Policy to discuss the feasibility study and to identify funding sources.’

The full council meeting will be held at the Edinburgh City Chambers today (Thursday, February 8) at 10am.

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