OFFICIALS behind Scotland’s first safe consumption room in Glasgow are hopeful that the project can act as a springboard to help similar facilities develop across the country.

It was confirmed on Wednesday morning that the £2.3 million project for Hunter Street in Glasgow’s east end has now been given the green light.

It comes after the Scottish Government's top lawyer Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain (below) said it would not be "in the public interest" to prosecute people using such a facility. 

The Scottish Government has backed the plans although Home Office minister Chris Philp has previously confirmed the UK Government does not support such facilities in England and Wales over concern they “condone or even encourage” drug use.

The National:

Speaking to The National, Glasgow Councillor Allan Casey said: “Obviously we’ve been at the forefront of trying to pilot a safe consumption room and obviously we’re the first in Scotland and indeed across the UK.

READ MORE: Ava Evans 'shocked and hurt' by Laurence Fox comments on GB News

“I’m really hopeful we can demonstrate this concept works in this country. Clearly it works in a load of other countries already and we’ve been taking best practice from a number of them.

“What we want to do is demonstrate that the concept works here and we can try work with other local authorities across Scotland to say we can be a network of safe consumption facilities across the country.”

When will the facility open?

Chief officer of the Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership Susanne Millar told reporters that she was hopeful the facility could open next summer.

However, there are still a number of steps which need to be completed before this can be confirmed.

She told reporters: “We are working towards recruitment from about April in terms of the staff group.

@scotnational We went down to the newly approved drug consumption room in Glasgow to find out what it's all about - here's what happened #snp #glasgow #scotland #fyp ♬ original sound - The National

“We know it takes quite a bit of time to develop a staff group. This is a really high-stakes job so we’ll be recruiting staff but then working with them as a staff team to support them.

She added that “significant” works would need to be completed on the building in Hunter Street as well before the facility could be open.

“There are areas we know need particular ventilation because of the kind of work we would be undertaking in terms of physical healthcare and public engagement needs to be done properly.

“We’re looking at the summer in terms of opening our doors. But we are committed to opening it as soon as we possibly can so those time frames may shift particularly as the building works become clear”, she explained.

How do safe consumption rooms actually work?

Not everybody agrees that safe consumption routes are the way forward to solve drug deaths in Scotland.

Speaking after the announcement, the Scottish Conservatives’ health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said his party have “serious reservations about how effective drug consumption rooms will be in reality”.

Asked how exactly the rooms work,  associate medical director and senior medical officer with Glasgow Alcohol and Drug Recovery Services Saket Priyadarshi said: “People who are currently using street drugs at the moment are often using away from home or in back lanes and alleys and car parks.

READ MORE: Keir Starmer says Labour will honour Rosebank oil field approval

“What we’re going to be able to offer is an opportunity for those individuals to come, register on site, tell us about the drugs that they want to use, get some harm reduction advice about how to use them safely including better injecting techniques if that’s required.

“But crucially they’ll be able to go through to an injecting area where they can inject the drugs in a very clean and hygienic environment under the supervision of trained staff.

“The trained staff can then respond to any events that arise in that setting, support individuals with wound or other health-related problems.

“After they’ve injected, we can help them to meet with people and offer them opportunities to engage with a range of other services whether its housing, welfare rights or sexual health.”

What are the long-term benefits?

When it was put to Millar that people knowing they had a space to use drugs would only encourage them to inject more often, she said evidence pointed towards the opposite.

She explained: “The work we’ve done over the last six years is based on significant international evidence.

“The evidence base is really clear that initially there is a harm-reduction element so it’s safer for people to use them in that kind of environment.

“But equally you’re much more likely to get people into service in terms of addressing problematic drug misuse.”

Millar further pointed to the benefits which could be seen in communities, specifically in terms of there being less drug litter.

She added: “We’re looking for the facility to be one of a range of services to help reduce drug deaths.

“It’s not the single thing that we are anticipating would have an immediate impact in terms of drug-related deaths.

READ MORE: Suella Braverman claims multiculturalism has failed in EXTREME speech

“When we undertook a public need assessment in Glasgow in 2015, we had a number of recommendations from public health about the needs of our drug injecting problem.

“This remains the only one we’ve been unable to implement so we see the drug consumption facility as the final piece in that jigsaw.”

And when asked about the practical implication of people potentially being arrested while on their way to a safe consumption room, Millar said: "That is something we've considered and we've taken legal advice on that. 

"What's key now is the ongoing work with our colleagues in Police Scotland. We will be working with them to address those operational challenges.

"We will have a number of those and we will open the service with a full understanding of what those challeges are."