By Joe Talora, Local Democracy Reporter
London should “lead the way” in tackling drug deaths by allowing narcotics to be consumed under medical supervision to prevent overdoses.
The London Assembly health committee on Thursday published a new report that has called on Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to work with the Government and police to adopt the new approach to tackling drug deaths in the capital.
It comes as deaths resulting from drug misuse remain at the highest level in England and Wales since comparable records began.
Almost 3,000 people died from drug misuse in England and Wales during 2020, with 296 deaths in London alone.
Following testimony from experts given at City Hall in December, the cross-party health committee has recommended that London pilot the use of ‘drug consumption rooms’.
The report also recommends the introduction of drug checking at venues and events in London to allow users to test the potency and contents of any substances they may be intending to use.
Caroline Russell, who is chairwoman of the Assembly’s health committee, said that such measures could “start to bring down the growing numbers of people sadly losing their lives due to problematic drug use” if implemented in London.
Despite fears that schemes such as drug consumption rooms and drug checking can lead to increased drug use, non-profit drug harm reduction organisation The Loop said there was “no evidence” to support these claims.
A spokesman for the Mayor of London, said: “The Mayor recognises there is growing demand for a debate on our drug laws, and work is well under way to establish the London Drugs Commission of independent experts who will examine the latest evidence from around the world, with particular focus on cannabis.
“The Commission will consider the effectiveness of our drugs law and make policy recommendations as to how to improve the situation for Londoners, reducing the huge harm that drugs like cannabis cause to our communities and society.”
Pictured top: Home Secretary Priti Patel on a Brixton drugs raid