Drugs crusader Peter Krykant has delivered a proposal to open official Overdose Prevention Centers in Glasgow and Dundee within four months.
Krykant, who is in recovery from drug addiction, made world news by running a converted ambulance in Glasgow as an unofficial facility for the city centre’s population of injecting drug users – the most vulnerable to overdose death.
The campaigner, who now works for treatment provider Cranstoun, has helped produce a blueprint that could provide services run from portable cabins for £1.2 million per city per year.
Cranstoun claims it can provide the service, enabling those at high risk of death to inject drugs safely, quicker and far cheaper than the NHS.
The proposals also come a full 12 months after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon promised the urgent roll-out of Heroin Assisted Treatment across Scotland – which has failed to happen and currently assists just 19 people.
Cranstoun’s measures would also bolt on a “Divert” system, in cooperation with Police Scotland, which would channel people caught with drugs into treatment instead of having them charged with crimes.
The private proposals come as Scotland’s Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain, Police Scotland and drugs minister Angela Constance continue to thrash out a workable framework, along with Glasgow’s Health and Social Care partnership.
Krykant said: “OPCs must have robust measures in place for staff and client safety, our proposal estimates that year one running costs would be £1.2m, including staffing, clinical and social care and fixed costs, which would provide 15 injecting areas.
“This model, similar to heroin assisted treatment, will run at a fraction of the highly medicalized costs but provide the same safety and security.
“Nicola Sturgeon announced over a year ago that heroin assisted treatment would be rolled out yet we still only have the same amount being delivered. This is Scotland’s choice, and let’s be clear, this is a choice, options are on the table, they must be considered.”
The proposal by Cranstoun states: “The headline figure estimated that we could deliver covering our Cranstoun whole system approach including DIVERTTM (a tailored diversion scheme) in the city center would come in under £1.2 million pounds.
“We see no reason why this cost would increase greatly in year two or subsequent years unless additional services were commissioned, ie diamorphine assisted treatment, drug checking etc.”
Cranstoun proposes a two year initial pilot using portable cabins.
One could house around fifteen injecting booths. Another would house clinical staff and equipment, with testing for blood borne viruses, wound care and onwards referrals.
A registered nurse would be onsite at all times. A service manager would oversee the day to day running of the service, including working closely with Police and local services.
The facilities would be equipped with naloxone, which reverses heroin overdoses, and flumazenil, an antidote for the benzodiazepines contained in “street Valium”, which plagues Scotland.
The proposal adds: “We are confident that the operation of an OPC would see improvements to the amenity of the local area with less discarded equipment and more people being able to access drug treatment.
“To allow safe operation, we need a memorandum of understanding (MoU) from Police Scotland which if this case is supported by Scottish Government and the Lord Advocate will mean the standard operating procedures below can be introduced by local Police.”
The proposal is supported by influential bodies like Release Drugs, Transform Drug Policy Foundation and academics including Professor Alex Stevens, a member of the Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We have received a proposal from the organization Cranstoun setting out how they would operate a safer drug consumption facility in Scotland. Scottish Government officials are currently considering this.
“We are continuing to work with partners, including COPFS and Police Scotland, to examine how a safer drug consumption facility could operate within the existing legal framework, focusing on how any such facility would operate and be policed.
“It is vital that if we are able to progress with any such facility that this work is done in a way which has the full confidence of all of the agencies involved, including COPFS and Police Scotland. As such we are working with care to develop a sustainable approach which will allow for any facility to operate to maximum effect.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.