Supervised Drug Consumption Facilities Bill passes first reading at Westminster

A Bill on the implementation of Supervised Drug Consumption Facilities has passed its first reading at Westminster.

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, presented her ten minute rule Bill to the Main Chamber on the 14th of March, asking the UK Government to allow for the piloting of a Supervised Drug Consumption Facility (SDCF) in Glasgow city centre.

The MP has been a long-standing advocate for an alternative approach to addressing public drug-injecting, and the associated public health concerns.

The Bill has drawn support from all political parties, with many supporters recognising that the status quo was failing to adequately respond to the issue.

The proposed SDCF in Glasgow would be the first in the UK, where medically trained staff would supervise people using heroin in order to prevent fatal overdoses, and also to provide sterile equipment to minimise the spread of HIV and hepatitis C through contaminated needles.

During her speech, Thewlis referred to the increase in drug-related deaths in Scotland, and also to the estimated 500 people who publicly inject in the city centre.

“There is a real and persistent issue in Glasgow. As a society, we can, and must, do better.”

“There needs to be recognition by this house that abstinence-based programmes will not necessarily work for everyone. Harm reduction and support will be better and more worthwhile interventions for some.”

“For Glasgow there is a significant cost in not doing this. There is a cost in treating the current HIV outbreak, hepatitis C and other conditions, emergency medical admissions and ambulance callouts, police time and clearing up drug injecting litter.”

“The police, councils, residents, vulnerable men and women, heartbroken families who have lost loved ones. The status quo serves none of these people well – I cannot accept that this is the best that we can do.”

The reading was accepted and the second reading of the Bill will be held on Friday the 27th of April 2018. The second reading is the first opportunity for MPs to debate the main principles of the Bill.

Click here to watch the Alison Thewliss’ speech.