This is a place where drug addicts, mainly those using heroin, are able to inject fixes in safe conditions using sterile needles, with medical attention and advice available if they need it. The aim is not to condone drug use, but to reduce the incidence of diseases like hepatitis transmitted by users sharing unclean needles, the risk of fatal consequences of overdosing, and the nuisance caused by addicts shooting up in public. The term seems from the written evidence to have first appeared in Australia at the end of the last decade, where it has since become well known, and where a debate is now taking place on legalising them following a trial of one in Sydney sanctioned by government. It has now travelled to the UK and is likely to become known here, since it was used last month in an important report on drugs policy by the Parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee.
Australia’s first medically supervised injecting room managed 250 heroin overdoses in its first year but not one was fatal, a report out this morning says. And fears of a honey-pot effect — where the centre would attract drug dealers and cause a rise in local crime — have proved baseless.
Sydney Morning Herald, May 2002
To reduce the harm caused by heroin use we have recommended a network of safe injecting rooms where chaotic users can inject safely, where needles can be disposed of and where those interested can get access to help.
Chris Mullin, Chairman, Home Affairs Select
Committee, in the Guardian, May 2002