THE UK’s Policing Minister claimed health workers could be charged if anyone died in a drug consumption room.

Kit Malthouse, Crime and Policing Minister, said they could face “manslaughter” charges.

Despite saying he came to Glasgow with an “open mind” he said that a consumption room, as argued for by Glasgow City Council and the health board, would not help reduce drug deaths or deal with the harm from drugs.

Instead, Mr Malthouse focused on a law and order approach tackling the supply while also saying new and innovative treatment had to be considered.

He said: “We have to think carefully about what we’re doing.

“Don’t underestimate the difficulties legally. How do you protect medical profession legally from manslaughter.

“People are reaching for something that feels like they can flick a switch and it will change. It won’t do that.”

At the Scottish Drug Conference yesterday at the SEC the arguments for a safer drug consumption room was made by health board and council officials and politicians.

Dr Saket Priyadarshi said he couldn’t see any arguments against it. And councillor Mhairi Hunter said no city was more ready that Glasgow to trial one.

It was also noted that no-one had died from an overdose in any of the around 150 drug consumption rooms operating in other countries around the world.

Mr Malthouse however, said: “It is not on the table at the moment. No. There’s lots more we can do.” Adding “I’m open minded. I’m anxious not to get into a squabble.”

Glasgow Central SNP MP Alison Thewliss was at the SEC but not invited into the UK summit.

She said: “That’s not an open mind. To come here and not listen to what people have been calling for for four years while people are dying is not acceptable.”

She also said he was a member of the Government that could change the law if it wanted to, adding it only needs current law to be amended, not new legislation.

The UK Government is also proposing more talks between police forces and a cross border meeting of ministers to agree a strategy to tackle drug deaths and drug dealing.

After a Scottish Conference on Wednesday and a UK summit on Thursday, the UK minister for policing said there will be another meeting in a month’s time in Belfast between ministers from the UK and the devolved administrations.

He also proposed a round table of senior police officers from Police Scotland and forces in England, including Greater Manchester and Merseyside.

Mr Malthouse, said: “I’m going to propose an England Scotland policing round table to decide what we can do to interfere with the business model.

“This is not the end. It is not a result. It is the beginning of a concerted action.”

At the summit Dame Carol Black revealed her UK review into Drug Misuse.

The UK Summit heard calls for better treatment and recovery services available.

Carol Calderwood, Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, said: “We have treated people with addictions and long term chronic conditions as criminals and pushed them through the justice system.

“We don’t treat any others in this way. We have not helped them on the road to recovery.”

Dame Carol said: “We need much more accountability and better treatment and recovery. Budgets have been squeezed and councils need to make choices and haven’t prioritised this .”

Annemarie Ward, Faces and Voices of Recovery chief executive, said: “Today’s summit sounds like more of the same, another talking shop that doesn’t deliver real action to prevent drug deaths.

“There are a lot of positives in the outstanding work from Dame Carol Black. Her report is welcome and we look forward to working with her on the next review on prevention, treatment and recovery.

“But it’s incredibly disappointing to see the UK Government dismiss evidence-based approaches like decriminalisation and consumption rooms out of hand. We need to see all treatment options on the table but they don’t want to listen.

“Dismissing evidence is not going to save lives and ignoring most of the Scottish voices with lived experience is a disgrace.

Scottish Government, Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick announced an extra £7.3m for drug and alcohol budgets taking this year’s budget to £20m.

He said: “The voices of people with lived experience of drug use were the focus of our Scottish Drugs Conference this week.

“A public health approach to this emergency is the right way forward and the extra £20 million will go to a range of support services, including those helping the crossover between addiction and mental health. This extra investment will help us to save lives.”