Nobody thinks they are the be-all and end-all of drugs policy. But consumption rooms are right at the centre of Scotland’s increasingly bitter drugs politics.

Authorities in Glasgow want to open a facility to help the most chaotic and vulnerable addicts get a fix safely.

However, their efforts have been blocked by the Lord Advocate , James Wolffe, who says existing UK-wide legislation makes it impossible for police officers to turn a blind eye to people taking illegal drugs.

Not everybody agrees with Mr Wolffe that Scotland needs the UK’s go-ahead to open such a facility. But SNP politicians have firmly aimed their fire at Theresa May’s Tory Government in England for blocking the plan.

Alison Thewliss, the MP for Glasgow Central, tried to get a bill through Westminster last year. The Home Office has refused to grant legal exemptions to allow any facility to operate.

READ MORE: SNP's Alison Thewliss hits out at UK Government's 'shameful' inaction over supervised drug facility

Ms Thewliss said: “The uptick in drug deaths from 2017 to 2018 is unprecedented and validates the work that has been done by Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership in planning for a supervised drug consumption facility – as part of a wider programme of measures – to tackle the problem.

“That the Home Office have refused to entertain these plans or to even meet with me to have a discussion about the issue is utterly shameful. Their blind commitment to outdated ideology over saving lives is unforgivable.

“How many people need to die before Tory ministers will finally admit there is a problem? Their obstinance has a human cost and never before has it been so pronounced.

“A safer consumption facility is not a magic bullet and wider action is needed to ensure the public health approach that Scotland wants to take is embedded in all services.” 

She added: “Today’s figures should be a clarion call to the UK Government; lives are being needlessly lost in Glasgow and Scotland. Please help us save them.”

Nearly 1,200 people suffered drug-related deaths last year.  These include some people who were not on the radar of support networks – but could be lured
into services through a drug consumption room, according to advocates. 
No 10, when asked about the record drugs deaths, said: “Our approach is: it’s clear we must prevent drug use to eliminate the crime committed by the illicit trade and stop the harm associated with drug dependency.

“We did set out a drugs strategy in 2017 and that set out our approach in bringing together various parts of society; police, the health community and
various partners to do this.”

Mrs May’s spokeswoman was asked if the Government would look again at facilitating supervised drug consumption rooms in Scotland. 

She replied: “We don’t have plans to do that. I would point you back to the drugs strategy in 2017, which set out the various ways we want to tackle this. That’s not part of our plan. We have various other measures we are taking forward.”

When it was suggested the Government strategy was clearly not working, the
spokeswoman said: “We set out a strategy, which we are taking forward. As well as that, the Scottish Government has its own approach to tackling drugs and alcohol misuse in areas that have devolved responsibility such as healthcare, criminal justice, housing and education.”

READ MORE: Drug death rate in Scotland at record high

Asked if there were any new policies being brought forward to tackle the Scottish crisis, she said: “We are currently working through the measures that were put forward from the drug strategy, which we set out a number of years ago.”

The spokeswoman added the Government was working on “bringing those numbers down”.

Earlier this year the Scottish Drugs Forum said it believed Mr Wolffe should “reconsider his legal judgment” on a so-called fix room in Glasgow on account of rising drug-related deaths.

The charity’s chief executive, David Liddell, believes Mr Wolffe has the power to ensure drugs users and staff at any facility are not prosecuted by issuing them with a “letter of comfort”.

The Crown Office, however, says it believes the Home Office would have to offer an exemption under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act. 

Labour’s Paul Sweeney also backed calls for drug consumption rooms and drug-testing facilities but took the SNP-run Glasgow Council and the Scottish Government to task for cutting addiction services in the city.

The shadow Scotland Office minister paid tribute to 16-year-old Chelsea Bruce, from Glasgow, who died after taking what was thought to be ecstasy at a house party.

“This time last year I presented Chelsea with an award at her school. To think that girl now lies dead for entirely preventable reasons is sickening. Her family now live with a mixture of fear and grief of what drugs can do,” said the Glasgow North East MP.