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Misuse of Drugs Act

Volume 691: debated on Monday 22 March 2021

Before I answer the question, may I reassure the hon. Member for Croydon Central (Sarah Jones) that I did follow the rules? I urge her, and indeed all Members, to get themselves regularly tested on a random basis, whether they have any symptoms or not.

The Government currently have no plans to review the 1971 Act. Obviously, we keep drugs controls under review, in consultation with the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, but drugs legislation is only part of our wider approach to preventing drug misuse, which includes: focusing on education in schools; promoting treatment and recovery; and preventing the supply of illicit drugs.

As a former Metropolitan police officer, may I pay tribute to the memory of PC Keith Palmer?

The largest review ever undertaken of 349 research studies from across the globe, carried out by the Centre for Criminology at the University of South Wales in 2017, found that safe or supervised injection rooms significantly reduced drug-related harms and dramatically cut mortality rates. Will the Minister pay heed to this overwhelming evidence and support at least one pilot facility—preferably more—for safe drug consumption rooms in Scotland?

I can understand the hon. Gentleman’s concern, given that Scotland currently has a drug death rate three and a half times that of the whole of the UK, and it is a matter that should be of concern to all of us. I have had extensive discussions with my Scottish colleagues, not least the new Scottish Minister for Drugs Policy, about how we could work together to try to tackle this problem. Although at the moment we do not envisage changing the rules to look at safe consumption rooms, there is a huge amount we can do together. I urge the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues north of the border to look at our groundbreaking ADDER— Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement and Recovery—projects, which are bringing together the police and the most critical partner for drug recovery, the health service, in five areas across England and Wales to focus on this problem and try to shift the numbers.