Drug addicts may be given ‘safe rooms’ where they can inject themselves with crack cocaine and heroin in controversial plan by Brighton council

More than 90 of these ‘safe’ rooms have been set up worldwide

Drug addicts will be able to inject themselves with crack and heroin in ‘safe rooms’ as part of a scheme being considered by Britain’s drugs death capital.

Brighton is set to become the first city in the UK to provide official ‘drug consumption rooms’ where addicts can use heroin, crack and cocaine under supervision without fear of prosecution.

Public health leaders in the city will meet this summer to give serious consideration to the plan which they say will ‘save lives.’

Last year Brighton and Hove was once again named and shamed as the drug death capital of the UK.

Figures ranked the city worst in the country for drug-related fatalities per head of population with 104 fatalities between 2009 and 2011.

Of the 35 deaths in 2010, 13 were the result of heroin overdoses and in 2009 promising medical student Hester Stewart died after taking a legal high called GBL.

It is estimated that around 2,000 people in the city have a serious substance abuse issues.

Rob Jarrett, chairman of Brighton’s health and wellbeing board-the local authority agency given responsibility for public health under recent NHS reforms- said previous strategies had failed to tackle the problem.

He told a Sunday newspaper that recent drug tackling policies in the city were tantamount to ’emotional knee-jerk reactions’ that had not stopped users killing themselves.

Safe room2He said: ‘I think from our perspective we see the health benefits of accepting drug use is going to happen and it might as well be happening in a place that can be monitored.

‘Our primary concern is the health of the people to make sure they don’t kill themselves.’
Mr Jarrett added: ‘I believe in Switzerland, where it has been tried, it has worked.
‘Up until now we have had policies that have been based on emotional knee-jerk reactions that haven’t solved the problem at all.’

The proposals were put forward by a drugs commission headed by crime author Peter James and Mike Trace, a former UK deputy drugs tsar.

A report published by the independent body this week is expected to say that the drug consumption rooms would ‘significantly reduce overdose death rates’ and would not encourage further use.

The commission was established following the prompting of local Green MP, Caroline Lucas.

Mrs Lucas said that while the facilities would push at the fringes of the law, it could be an important innovation.

‘Prohibition isn’t working,’ she said. ‘This is a government that often says it wants to be guided by evidence and yet drugs policy is more or less an evidence-free zone.’