Ian Hamilton, Researcher at the University of York, believes that drug consumption rooms or supervised injecting facilities aren't something that the government is willing to consider.
Sputnik: As a nationwide conference on drug misuse across the UK kicks off in Glasgow, plans for drug consumption rooms to get addicts off the streets have been called a "distraction" by the UK government minister for crime. What do you make of these comments from Kit Malthouse?
Ian Hamilton: I think the first thing to say is, it's really welcomed that the government is holding this summit and reviewing the evidence from Dame Carol Black, but it is disappointing that you have a minister even before he's heard the evidence and sat down with others in the summit, is making this announcement. So it's clear from the off, as you say, drug consumption rooms or supervised injecting facilities aren't something that the government's willing to consider - despite the pleas from the Scottish Government - to at least try piloting those in Glasgow and maybe that's where the rub is between the Scottish Government in Hollywood and the Westminster government who aren't willing to collaborate on this particular issue.
Sputnik: Ok; lets for a minute just say Kit Malthouse is right to make these comments and consumption rooms aren't the solutions for Britain's drug death problem. What other solutions could also be considered?
Ian Hamilton: I think that's a fair point. On their own, these facilities aren't going to solve the problem, so if that's already been ruled out, then we do need to look at what else is there. Dame Carol Black in her evidence that she's giving to the summit today has made it clear that we need more investment in treatment. Still, investment alone won't be enough because you can't just turn on the taps of workers and buildings and that kind of capacity overnight, so there needs to be some kind of building up of a trained workforce to provide that treatment. Even within existing treatments, we need to be able to provide the right dose of substitute drugs like methadone and buprenorphine to help people come off heroin and ensure they remain off heroin. Because one of the things that happen at the moment is people start on usually quite high doses of substitute drugs but then are weaned off too quickly, and of course that just pushes them back out into using street heroin again.
Sputnik: If we look at the conference in a broader sense it follows a series of rather disturbing figures, which have been publicized over the past year, that have revealed the extent of drug deaths across Britain with Scotland having the highest level of drug deaths in the UK. Can we expect any real solutions from this conference?
Ian Hamilton: I think we're not going to be short on solutions because we already have good evidence behind those and we've just discussed some of those. I don't think the ministers of the government are going to be searching around for solutions but what is going to be interesting is what they actually commit to. So what we're looking for at the end of this conference is some clear statement about what exactly the government's going to do, and whether they're going to put their money where their mouth is, and resource that and fund it because some of this will take funding and money.
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