Set up a Drug Consumption Room (proposed by Cllr Wade)
Liberal Democrat Group member motion
One in five Local Authorities in England have cut budgets for addiction services and for support for drug users by more than half since 2015/16 and, with drug-related deaths at a record high, this Council believes that there needs to be greater commitment to setting up drug consumption rooms (DCRs).
These are units where drug users can take street drugs in a safe and clean environment, where antidotes are available for overdoses, and where users ready to move away from their drug habit can find support. The street homeless population is particularly vulnerable, so this Council seeks to give them the protection of a DCR.
Drugs policy is currently the province of the Home Office, which since June 2018 has been resisting calls from the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council for leave to open the first heroin assisted-treatment facility in the city, which would allow addicts to use drugs in a regulated environment.
In 2006 the Joseph Rowntree Independent Working Group on DCRs concluded that ‘well-designed and well-implemented DCRs would have an impact on some of the serious drug-related problems experienced in the UK’ and proposed the setting up of pilot DCRs. Its recommendations have not been taken forward.
· This Council regrets the 2020 Home Office statement that it would not be decriminalising drug use.
· This Council proposes a public health evidence-based approach to drug use. Reliance on the criminal justice system has been at best ineffective, and at worst has driven drug dealers and users underground.
· Oxford City Council calls on the UK Government:
1. To seek an explicit statement from the Home Office that the operation of DCRs is a matter for Local Authorities; specific rules can then be agreed by Police Forces, the CPS, Health Bodies and Local Authorities
2. To make a ministerial commitment through the Home Secretary to protect the budgets of alcohol and drug partnerships
3. To fund drug-testing services to be deployed at localities where there is a need, allowing ‘at risk’ users to find out what is in a substance and to offer advice on harm reduction.
4. To allow the setting up of a pilot drug consumption room in Oxford City under an exemption from the 1971 UK Misuse of Drugs Act.
Oxford City Council asks the Leader of the Council to write to the Home Office and to Oxford’s MPs to inform them of this Resolution and urge them to take appropriate action.
1. Independent Working Group on DCRs (Joseph Rowntree Foundation 2006) https://www.jrf.org.uk/sites/default/files/jrf/migrated/files/9781859354711.pdf
2. Volteface: Are DCRs viable in the UK? (28.11.17)
3. Room for Improvement: How Drug Consumption Rooms save lives (01.04.19) https://www.adamsmith.org/research/room-for-improvement-how-drug-consumption-rooms-save-lives
4. HIV Scotland ‘Charity backs plans for unofficial DCRs’ (07.03.20)
5. British Medical Journal (5.08.21)
Scotland intends to set up safe spaces for drug users in defiance of UK Govt.
6. Safer drug consumption facilities: Glasgow Health & Social Care Partnership
7. Mobilizing DCRs
8. A critical analysis of UK news media representations of proposals (Liverpool John Moores University)
9. Review of Drugs Pt 2: prevention, treatment and recovery (Dame Carol Black, 2.08.21)
This motion was not taken as the time allotted for debate had finished.