Addiction expert’s virtual return to Westminster for drugs crisis roundtable

GCU’s addictions expert Dr Andrew McAuley joined Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee virtual roundtable on problem drug use.

The Senior Research Fellow was invited to share his expertise on Scotland’s drugs crisis with 11 MPs from the Scottish Affairs Committee.

The roundtable meeting was an opportunity for the Committee to hear the views of key stakeholders, following the UK government’s response to the report on problem drug use the Committee published in November last year. The meeting also explored the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on addressing Scotland’s drugs crisis.

Dr McAuley said: “The most important thing about roundtable events like these is that it keeps Scotland’s drugs crisis high on the political agenda. It is good to see that the Scottish Affairs Committee MPs have not resigned themselves to the fact that their report has been largely rejected by the UK government and that they are going to continue to advocate for their recommendations to be implemented.

“They also talked about trying to collaborate with the Health and Social Care Committee, who ran a similar inquiry on drugs last year and both came to similar conclusions in relation to legislative and policy change.”

Last April, Dr McAuley told the Scottish Affairs Committee at its drugs inquiry that Glasgow has one of the strongest cases in Europe for introducing a drug consumption facility in its city centre.

Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership has supported the idea of a drug consumption facility but moves to introduce one have continually been blocked by the Home Office.

Dr McAuley told MPs: “It’s important to acknowledge Glasgow’s case for a drug consumption room is arguably the most compelling in Europe for decades.

“The HIV outbreak, drug death epidemic, largest botulism outbreak Europe has ever seen − there’s a whole host of reasons why Glasgow is a perfect case for the UK’s first consumption room.”

He said the Committee made a number of recommendations, most of which have been rejected by the UK government including the introduction of drugs consumption rooms.

Dr McAuley was one of the 17 witnesses to be invited back to the Committee for the two-hour roundtable last week to share updates and discuss the UK government’s response to last year’s inquiry.

He said: “Last April I travelled to Westminster to give evidence to the Committee and a report was published in November. About a month ago the UK government responded to the 20 recommendations in it, rejecting almost all of them.

“So a selection of witnesses who gave evidence at that inquiry were invited back to discuss the UK government’s response. I was specifically asked to respond to the UK government’s rejection of the committee’s recommendation to pilot drug consumption rooms. Overall it was very constructive discussion which we hope will continue to inform the debate on progressive, evidence-informed drug policy in Scotland.”

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