​Drug pilot site needs planning - John McLellan

​With over 90 drug deaths a year, it was inevitable that plans to establish a legal drug consumption room in Edinburgh would quickly follow Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain confirming there would be no prosecutions at a pilot project in Glasgow.

​Now the Glasgow feasibility study is going ahead, there is already an assumption that such a facility In Edinburgh would be in the city centre, almost certainly in the Cowgate at the old Panmure St Anne’s school, now a homelessness hub with the Access Place which supports people with serious drug and alcohol problems.

They must be treated somewhere, but before there is a headlong rush to add legal heroin-taking to the centre’s services, there needs to be a proper appraisal of its suitability for the heart of the World Heritage Site.

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It’s not an argument for sweeping social problems under the carpet or excluding people with addiction problems from the city centre, but as High Street traders are already reporting escalating problems related to drug abuse, and intimidating behaviour around Hunter Square, how much more can the area take without greater police presence?

The Glasgow pilot scheme will be sited near the Barras in the East End, some way from the main city centre thoroughfares and not a place where thousands of international visitors stroll.

Some might argue that providing heroin free of charge or prosecution will reduce the need for aggressive gangs to target shopkeepers, but there must be a fair chance a consumption room will become a magnet.

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