They’ve been touted as the solution to Dundee’s fatal attraction to drugs.
But the Tele can reveal today that a majority of locals don’t think the introduction of so-called shooting galleries — safe spaces for people to take illegal substances — will help tackle the problem.
A poll by this newspaper found that 53% of people don’t believe the facilities, which allow users to inject in a safe environment, would save lives.
A majority of people who voted, 67%, also disagreed with the view the centres would reduce crime, and more than two in three didn’t think they’d help tackle addiction.
However, most folk think that if they were introduced, shooting galleries should be placed in locations that are blighted by drugs.
Our poll also asked people what the priority for Dundee’s new drugs commission should be, and most (41%) said protecting children at risk from substance misuse should be top of the agenda.
That was ahead of early intervention (22%), building resilient communities to tackle drug abuse in local areas (19%) and aiding the recovery of addicts (16%).
The issue has been hotly debated in the city in recent months after Dr Robert Peat, chairman of the new commission, said the introduction of shooting galleries was one of the options it could consider to cut the number of drug-related deaths.
Aileen Campbell, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Public Health and Sport, said last month that she was “prepared to look at the possibility of introducing safe drug-taking centres in the city if it is shown that this is what the people of Dundee want”.
About 200 people responded to our poll, with some arguing it was “the worst idea they’d heard” but others saying such centres would be of “great benefit” to parts of the city.
One respondent said: “Shooting galleries will only encourage addicts.
“Galleries will probably turn out to be the go-to place to purchase drugs.
“I certainly wouldn’t like it to be on my doorstep.
“What about children walking past the place?”
Another said: “Shooting galleries will not reduce crime as users still have to fund their habit in the first place. These schemes simply enable users and normalise the use of controlled drugs in our communities.”
One voter said that “regardless of where it could be located, somebody will lose out”, adding: “Either their property/business will devalue, or the area will never be able to be regenerated.”
Another local warned the scheme would legitimise drug-taking, saying: “What kind of message is this sending — that drug taking is acceptable? It must be if the council and other services provide a place to take drugs.”
However, it was argued by one person that such facilities would have a positive impact.
They said: “Even if this only reduces the risk of people or children finding and accidentally harming themselves with used needles on the street, then it will be a good thing.”
And another said: “They would be of great benefit to residents who frequently discover evidence of drug misuse on their doorsteps, in common stairs areas.
“A shooting gallery provides a safe environment for drug users and opportunities to give intervention to these people.”
One other voter added: “There is a strong evidence base to suggest that legal injecting sites support a reduction in drug-related deaths and offending.”