Heroin ‘shoot­ing gallery’ blocked by chief law of­fi­cer

Tak­ing a bow, the sis­ter act set to ri­val Ni­cola Clinic for drug ad­dicts fails to win le­gal ap­proval

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - Daily Mail Re­porter By Gra­ham Grant Home Af­fairs Ed­i­tor

PLANS for a heroin ‘shoot­ing gallery’ have been blocked by Scot­land’s top pros­e­cu­tor.

The open­ing of a clinic where ad­dicts could bring in their own drugs to in­ject un­der strict med­i­cal su­per­vi­sion had been pro­posed.

But Lord Ad­vo­cate James Wolffe, QC, has told cam­paign­ers lob­by­ing for the cen­tre that ‘the pub­lic in­ter­est ob­jec­tive is a health rather than jus­tice one’ – and re­fused to give it the le­gal go-ahead.

The orig­i­nal pro­posal for the ‘safer con­sump­tion’ fa­cil­ity in Glas­gow in­cluded med­i­cal-grade heroin be­ing ad­min­is­tered to ad­dicts, with an area for them to bring in their own drugs.

Un­der the law, heroin can be given out un­der tightly con­trolled con­di­tions. But Mr Wolffe had been asked to grant an ex­emp­tion to en­sure staff su­per­vis­ing ad­dicts in­ject­ing their own drugs would not be pros­e­cuted.

Sources said the Crown Of­fice did not want to be drawn into a row about the scheme’s le­gal­ity.

Mr Wolffe has not made any judg­ment about whether a le­gal com­pro­mise could be reached.

His with­hold­ing of le­gal per­mis­sion means the project as orig­i­nally con­ceived can­not pro­ceed.

Health and coun­cil chiefs will have to li­aise with Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials but the med­i­cal-grade heroin sec­tion of the cen­tre could still go ahead.

The de­vel­op­ment is a ma­jor blow for sup­port­ers of the plan, who say it is needed be­cause of ris­ing drug deaths and HIV in­fec­tion rates.

The Crown Of­fice said: ‘The Lord Ad­vo­cate has con­sid­ered the pro­pos­als and is of the view that the pub­lic in­ter­est ob­jec­tive is a health rather than jus­tice one.’

A spokesman said Gov­ern­ment health of­fi­cials will ‘of­fer to meet’ or­gan­is­ers of the clinic to ‘dis­cuss the pro­posal, its ob­jec­tives and how th­ese might best be met’.

The ini­tial plan would have al­lowed drug users as young as 16 to visit one of 12 in­ject­ing booths un­der med­i­cal su­per­vi­sion. Tax­pay­ers would foot the bill of an es­ti­mated £2.4mil­lion a year.

But crit­ics feared it would breach the Mis­use of Drugs Act and United Na­tions con­ven­tions, and would be a mag­net for deal­ers.

The Mail re­vealed yes­ter­day that money left to the NHS in wills was spent on re­search for the ‘shoot­ing gallery’. Some £100,000 had been in­vested in prepar­ing for the project – even though no suit­able build­ing had been found.

The cash comes from an NHS en­dow­ment fund that is fi­nanced by do­na­tions, in­clud­ing be­quests.

A mem­ber of the board be­hind the pro­pos­als raised con­cerns this week over the use of the cash.

The pro­pos­als are be­ing de­vel­oped by the Glas­gow City In­te­grated Joint Board (GCIJB), which met on Wed­nes­day. Mem­bers were told po­lice were prepar­ing for the cen­tre and a QC had drawn up a le­gal opin­ion – passed to the po­lice in the hope of bol­ster­ing the case for the clinic.

The opin­ion will not be pub­lished, nor has the lawyer been named. The GCIJB was un­able to say how much the ad­vice cost. Plans to de­velop a ‘busi­ness case’ for the unit were ap­proved by Glas­gow health and coun­cil of­fi­cials this year.

Po­lice Scot­land Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent John McKen­zie ad­mit­ted this week that ‘the de­liv­ery of such a fa­cil­ity is not achiev­able in the near fu­ture’, adding: ‘We will con­tinue to work with part­ners and ex­plore new ideas.’

Tory MSP for Glas­gow An­nie Wells said the ‘pri­or­ity should be help­ing th­ese vul­ner­a­ble in­di­vid­u­als turn their lives around... not keep­ing them trapped in a destruc­tive cy­cle’.

Na­tional Records of Scot­land fig­ures show there were a record 867 drug-re­lated deaths last year – up 161, or 23 per cent, on 2015.

The GCIJB is the de­ci­sion­mak­ing body of the Glas­gow Health and So­cial Care Part­ner­ship. It said: ‘We will be tak­ing some time to study and con­sider [the Lord Ad­vo­cate’s] opin­ion.’

Pub­lic Health Min­is­ter Aileen Camp­bell said: ‘Drug leg­is­la­tion is re­served and I have writ­ten to the UK Gov­ern­ment re­quest­ing a meet­ing to dis­cuss the is­sues.’

‘Pri­or­ity should be help­ing ad­dicts’

SHE has long been Scot­land’s queen of clas­si­cal mu­sic.

But Ni­cola Benedetti could have two chal­lengers – in the shape of the Ay­oub Sis­ters.

Sarah, 25, and 21-year-old Laura re­cently wowed top pro­ducer Mark Ron­son with the clas­si­cal twist they gave his pop hit Up­town Funk.

As a re­sult, he in­vited vi­o­lin­ist Laura and cel­list Sarah to record a cover of the song at the iconic Abbey Road stu­dios in Lon­don.

And on Sun­day, the clas­si­cally trained pair are set to re­lease their first video, made to ac­com­pany the haunt­ing sin­gle Melodies for Scot­land.

The sis­ters, from Glas­gow, whose self-ti­tled de­but al­bum topped the UK clas­si­cal mu­sic charts after its re­lease in Septem­ber, chose to film the video at Loch Lomond.

They said: ‘Loch Lomond is one of our favourite lo­ca­tions in Scot­land. It has the charm and seren­ity we were search­ing for in this video.’

‘Charm and seren­ity’

Ta­lent: Laura, left, and Sarah. Inset, Ni­cola Benedetti

Rul­ing: James Wolffe, QC

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