NICOLA Sturgeon and Douglas Ross have agreed to set aside political differences to help address Scotland drugs deaths crisis after a joint visit to a support project in Glasgow.

The First Minister said she was “very open minded” about the Scottish Tory leader’s proposed Right to Recovery Bill at Holyrood, which would give people a legal right to treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, and would be prepared to help it become law

Mr Ross, who last week dropped his opposition to the SNP's plans for supervised drug consumption rooms, said he would also encourage the UK Government allow a room be piloted.

He was speaking ahead of a meeting with Crime and Policing Minister Kit Malthouse about the pilot today.

Mr Ross said he wanted the two projects taken forward as a package - the pilot and his Bill - but said he would support the pilot regardless of whether the Bill passed or fell.

The rare outbreak of bipartisan cooperation came after the two leaders visited the Bluevale Community Club in Haghill, which runs a cafe for recovering drug addicts.

The visit came about after Ms Sturgeon challenged Mr Ross to visit a working-class area with her after  the UK Government ended the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift and Mr Ross claimed the Scottish Tories were now the party of the working class.

Mr Ross accepted the offer and suggested the Bluevale project as part of his push for more action to tackle Scotland’s drugs crisis, which last year claimed a record 1,339 lives.

Ahead of the event, the organisation’s founder Kenny Trainer said drug users were “dying in the street” while “political leaders are arguing” and failing to tackle the emergency.

After meeting both leaders, Mr Trainer said they were “fantastic”, but bemoaned the length of time it was taking for changes to be considered, adding: “They’re not doing enough”.

Ms Sturgeon said: “We’ve tried to do things to address and turn around the drugs problem but clearly, self evidently, what we’ve been doing up until now has not been effective.

“This is too important for it to fall foul of the traditional, political rhetoric and defensiveness that governments can sometimes show.”

Earlier this month the new Lord Advocate, Dorothy Bain QC, suggested it might be possible to operate a safe drug consumption room in Scotland without those involved being at risk of prosecution under UK drug law - the objection raised by her predecessor.

With Mr Ross dropping his opposition to the idea, Ms Sturgeon said: “I think it is good that there is a willingness to put politics aside and to recognise where we can work together.

“He has opened his mind on safe consumption rooms. That is welcome.

“I’ve opened my mind to putting a right to the recovery into statute, although... it’s what we do to give that substance that matters and that’s what we’re getting on with right now.

“There also needs to be a recognition that some of the drivers of drug misuse lie in poverty in a broken benefits system, so there’s a part for the Westminster Government to play here as well.

“But if all of us put politics aside and focus on the solutions, then I think we will be doing a great service to people who I have been speaking with here.”

Mr Ross added: “Today was not the day for any political soundbites. I made it very clear and, I think and hope the First Minister did the same, she wasn’t there to attack the Conservatives and I wasn’t there to attack the SNP.

“This was about the First Minister of the country, the leader of the opposition coming together to show a united front on an issue that is a national scandal.

“Hopefully, that reassures both the communities we visited and people across Scotland that their politicians are going to take it seriously.

“We don’t necessarily agree 100 per cent on how to tackle this issue but, at least, if we can go to a visit like this together and show that we are willing to park our politics at the door and focus on the issue in front of us, I hope that provides some comfort.”

He  said charity leaders “convinced me of the need to at least get more evidence on drug consumption rooms”.

He continued: “I’ve been very honest about this in the past, my wife’s a police officer and the policing side still gives me really serious concerns but how do I articulate those concerns if I’m not even willing to have a pilot in place to see how it would work in practice in Scotland?

“This is an issue that demands leadership and sometimes you have to compromise on some issues to get the right outcome. It might be that drug consumption rooms aren’t the answer, or they are the answer here in Scotland.

“Given the seriousness of the situation, I won’t be opposing that pilot if the Scottish Government bring it forward and I want to look at the evidence.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur said: “I hope this visit was an eye-opener for both the First Minister and Douglas Ross. Scotland’s drug death crisis has been raging for far too long and both of their parties have been part of the problem. Alongside proposals to boost rehabilitation, drug consumption rooms offer a practical way to save lives and are supported by an overwhelming body of international medical evidence.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats have consistently argued that the law around consumption rooms isn’t as black and white as the Scottish and UK Governments assert. 

“It is time to push those limits, break the impasse and stop people dying. Both Nicola Sturgeon and Douglas Ross need to give their clear support to making this happen.”