By Stewart Paterson

THE UK Government has ruled out allowing a safer drug consumption room in Glasgow on the day it holds a UK drug death summit in the city.

Calls will be made directly to the UK Government today for a facility in Glasgow to reduce the risk of fatal overdose and cut down on public injecting.

Last summer, statistics were released showing 1,187 people in Scotland died from drug-related deaths.

The UK drug death summit is being held in the city after the Glasgow Times called for governments to get together to agree action to reduce the rising death toll.

We issued the call to the council and both governments after the latest drug related death figures showed an increase to 280 people in 2018.

The figures for 2019 when they are released are expected to rise to as much as 350.

Gaining the consent of the UK Government for a consumption room, where drug users bring heroin to be injected in sterile conditions under supervision, is the number one priority of Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government from the Summit.

However, just hours before it was due to start the Home Office rejected any calls and said “illegal drugs devastate lives and communities” and said it has “no plans to introduce drug consumption rooms in the UK”.

At the Scottish drugs death conference today at the SEC politicians and health experts in the city said that a facility would make a big difference to the lives of problem drug users and communities blighted by public injecting.

Dr Saket Priyadarshi, associate medical director for addictions, said: “I can’t see any arguments against it.

“It would reduce public injecting for residents businesses and visitors to the city, it would reduce harm with someone trained to reverse overdose on site and it also offers the opportunity to engage people to take the first steps into services.”

Mhairi Hunter, of Glasgow Health and social care partnership said: “ I don’t any any city has been more ready to do this than Glasgow. We have political consensus among politicians and the health board and huge support from the public. The barriers that have happened elsewhere do not exist in Glasgow.”

The UK Government has also refused to allow a model of a drug consumption room to be displayed at the summit today.

Transform Drug Policy Foundation displayed a mock-up of how a facility would look at the SEC at the Scottish conference.

Transform head of partnerships, Martin Powell, said however, he will not be able to show the demonstrator to health and policing experts when the UK Government event opens on today with politicians, police and health chiefs from across the UK attending the event.

The model shows the injecting booths and displays the safe, clean equipment that will be given to drug users when the attend the facility.

The council and health board want to open a facility just outside the city centre to reduce the risk of fatal overdose and deal with an HIV outbreak which has been shown to be linked to outdoor injecting among the most problematic dug users.

But the UK government needs to amend the law to allow people to take illegal drugs into the facility without facing prosecution.

So far the Home Office has refused any requests and ministers have stated they will not be allowing anything that permits illegal drug taking.

Mr Powell said: “In Glasgow there is a particularly acute problem and an HIV epidemic.”

He said it is not a miracle cure but has been shown to save lives.

Mr Powell added: “I’m disappointed the Government didn’t want us at their event. We are hoping the UK government will recognise the current approach doesn’t work. Drugs are more easily available, they are cheaper than ever and killing more people than ever.

“It is inconceivable to carry on with the current approach.”

A UK Government spokesman said: “The Government has no plans to introduce drug consumption rooms in the UK. Illegal drugs devastate lives and communities, and dealers should face the full consequences of the law.”

“We have organised a UK-wide drugs summit in Glasgow tomorrow which will bring together drug recovery experts, health professionals, government ministers and senior police officers to discuss how we can most effectively prevent the health-related harms of drug misuse.”