Call for addict shooting galleries

The Government should introduce "shooting galleries" where drug addicts can safely inject themselves with heroin, a report has said.

Crime reduction charity Nacro said the move would tackle the problem of users injecting in public and scattering old needles, as well as making it less dangerous to themselves.

Home Secretary David Blunkett last year rejected the idea of shooting galleries, even though a cross-party group of MPs suggested they should be considered as a possible tool in the war on drugs.

The new report, Drugs and Crime: From Warfare to Welfare, also called for the dance drug ecstasy to be downgraded from class A, where it is ranked alongside heroin and crack, to class B.

It said Britain's "overly punitive" drugs laws were undermining the creation of strategies to support and treat crack and heroin addicts.

It said that in the UK three-quarters of spending to tackle drugs went on policing, courts, prisons, Customs and other law enforcement.

With a global annual drugs trade of £300 billion, the biggest market after oil and arms and which is worth between £10 billion and £20 billion each year in the UK alone, the emphasis on law enforcement had "conspicuously failed", the report added.

Author Dr Marcus Roberts said: "However undesirable drug taking may be, it is a feature of modern British life.

"Most drug use has little serious impact on the community. At the same time, a minority of hard drug users are responsible for a lot of crime.

"We need to provide drug addicts with help and support and to look at the social and personal problems that often lie behind the most damaging kinds of drug use."

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