The activist behind “lifesaving” mobile safer drug consumption facilities in Glasgow has been charged under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
Peter Krykant, who lost his job as an outreach worker for establishing the services in backstreets where people with drug dependencies inject, was cautioned and charged on Friday. The police then left the scene and will submit a report of the charge to the procurator fiscal.
Krykant plans to continue to provide the weekly service in Parnie Street, as he attempts to reduce drug-related deaths and transmissions of HIV and hepatitis after drug-related deaths in Scotland reached the highest rates in Europe.
Scotland’s largest city is at the centre of the country’s deepening drug crisisand Britain’s worst HIV epidemic for more than 30 years, the result of needle sharing.
Krykant has said that only a change in the law to allow the legal consumption of drugs such as heroin and cocaine would allow authorities to tackle the issue.
The Glasgow Central MP, Alison Thewliss, tweeted: “The work Peter Krykant is doing reduces harm and helps save lives. He must be allowed to continue doing so. The Misuse of Drugs Act is obsolete and is putting lives at risk.”
The Inverclyde MP, Ronnie Cowan, tweeted: “Charging Peter Krykant is contrary to the Police Scotland website which states ‘Semper Vigilo, keeping people safe.’ Peter was keeping people safe. Now he can’t.”
Police tolerated Krykant’s work for nearly two months, during which time his volunteers were credited with saving a man’s life after being told he had overdosed nearby. They administered naloxone, which reverses opiate overdoses, and the man regained consciousness before being taken to hospital.
The former Labour MP Paul Sweeney has also been helping Krykant facilitate safer drug use. This is “destructive and counterproductive and is effectively driving vulnerable people back into dirty alleyways,” he told the Daily Record.
“Posting police officers to monitor this van is a waste of resources, particularly when you consider other forces in England are bringing in progressive initiatives to help drug users.”
There are about 100 officially sanctioned drug consumption rooms across the world, and none has ever recorded an overdose death thanks to thousands of life-saving interventions.
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “A 43-year-old man has been charged in connection with an offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 on Parnie Street in Glasgow during the morning of Friday, 23 October 2020. A report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal in due course.”
The UK government, which sets drugs policy, has previously rejected calls to legalise such facilities and said running one would be an offence.