A mobile drug injection van where drug users can safely inject heroin has been launched in Glasgow, despite concerns that it could be breaking the law. The minibus, also termed as the “fix room,” is owned and operated by Peter Krykant, a recovering heroin addict, who has modified the vehicle into a facility for drug users to safely inject drugs under supervision.
In his interview with BBC News, Mr Krykant said homeless drug users are currently consuming drugs in “squalid” conditions.
“I visited various hotspots for public injecting in Glasgow myself. You wouldn’t want anybody in those conditions. People are using under bridges along the Clyde. You just need to look over the side and you’ll see thousands of discarded needles, old sleeping bags… People are dying in those conditions.”
However, the UK government has stated it does not plan to introduce drug consumption rooms. Moreover, according to the current legislature, running such a facility could be considered as committing offences including possession of a controlled drug and being implicated in the supply of a controlled drug.
Despite previous calls for creating a safe and legal consumption site in Glasgow being rejected by the UK Home office, Mr Krykant proceeded with his plan. Currently, there are approximately 500 injecting users in Glasgow city centre. In addition, Glasgow is currently recovering from the worst HIV outbreak in the UK for 30 years and increasing numbers of drug-related deaths levels of drug-related deaths across Scotland.
“We say in Scotland we are treating drug addiction as a health problem, we say it’s a public health emergency. Yet it’s a pandemic that is ongoing that four people a day are currently on average dying in this country directly from a drug overdose. Inaction now, on my part, is contributing to those deaths,” Mr Krykant told BBC News.
He purchased the vehicle online after raising £2,400 using crowdfunding. The mobile injection site contains clean needles, injecting equipment and Naloxone, the drug used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
Although the van does not have the capability to test drugs to determine whether they are safe to inject, Mr. Krykant says that the mobile injection site provides a safer option for drug users: “I think it’s a lot safer than someone using under a bridge. That’s the simple reality.”
Earlier in 2017, Glasgow’s health and social care partnership called for the introduction of a drug consumption room in the city. However, this plan was ultimately rejected by the UK Government, which controls drug policy.
Previously, the Scottish government had lobbied for more control over Scotland’s drug policies to create programs and initiatives such as safe injection facilities. However, the UK government has no current plans to introduce such facilities in Scotland or elsewhere in the UK.