Drug Consumption Rooms and Public Health Policy: Perspectives of Scottish Strategic Decision-Makers



Nicholls J, Livingston W, Perkins A, Cairns B, Foster R, Trayner KMA, Sumnall HR, Price T, Cairney P, Dumbrell J & Parkes T (2022) Drug Consumption Rooms and Public Health Policy: Perspectives of Scottish Strategic Decision-Makers. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19 (11), Art. No.: 6575.

There is widespread support for the introduction of Drug Consumption Rooms (DCRs)in Scotland as part of a policy response to record levels of drug-related harm. However, existing legal barriers are made more complex by the division of relevant powers between the UK and Scottish Governments. This paper reports on a national, qualitative study of key decision-makers in both local and national roles across Scotland. It explores views on the political barriers and enablers to the adoption of Drug Consumption Rooms and the potential role of these facilities in the wider treatment system. It also considers approaches to evidence, especially the types of evidence that are considered valuable in supporting decision-making in this area. The study found that Scottish decision-makers are strongly supportive of DCR adoption; however, they remain unclear as to the legal and political mechanisms that would make this possible. They view DCRs as part of a complex treatment and support system rather than a uniquely transformative intervention. They see the case for introduction as sufficient, on the basis of need and available evidence, thus adopting a pragmatic and iterative approach to evidence, in contrast to an appeal to traditional evidence hierarchies more commonly adopted by the UK Government.

drug consumption rooms; safer injecting facilities; overdose prevention centres; drugs; policy; harm reduction; interventions; harm reduction; problem drug use; public health; Scotland

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: Volume 19, Issue 11

FundersScottish Government
Publication date30/06/2022
Publication date online27/05/2022
Date accepted by journal25/05/2022

People (5)


Professor Paul Cairney
Professor Paul Cairney

Professor, Politics

Mr Joshua Dumbrell
Mr Joshua Dumbrell

Research Assistant (Peer Research), Dementia and Ageing

Dr James Nicholls
Dr James Nicholls

Senior Lecturer in Public Health, Health Sciences Stirling

Professor Tessa Parkes
Professor Tessa Parkes

Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences

Dr Tracey Price-Allan
Dr Tracey Price-Allan

Lecturer, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology

Projects (1)