Drug rooms don't have 'honeypot' effect in attracting drug users

Supervised injecting centres do not have a “honeypot effect” in attracting drug users, the report of a drug policy summit has said.

It found there needed to be a “relationship of trust” between police and management of the centre and that gardaí must neither “target nor avoid” the centre.

The report said the facility will “not solve the drug problem or decrease drug consumption”.

It said legislation setting up the centres – currently going through the Oireachtas – should not exclude certain groups, such as those aged under 18 or pregnant women.

The report said that while a pilot was being set up for Dublin city centre, it noted that there had been calls for such a facility in other areas, such as Cork city.

The report of the Drug Policy Summit, hosted by the Ana Liffey Drug Project, examined medically supervised injecting centres and decriminalisation.

It said people who inject drugs should be consulted regarding “service design and implementation” of the facility.

The report said injecting facilities “should and could be much more than just monitoring injections"; provide an opportunity for “relief” from the dangers users face on the street; provide the room to have conversations with staff.

It said that access to the facility should be broad and “steer away from excluding certain groups from the accessing the service (eg under 18s, pregnant women etc)”.

The report said that injectors tend “to use close to where they purchase their drugs”.

“It was suggested that 'NIMBYism' (not in my back yard) may be an issue and people may be concerned about a honeypot effect, although it was noted that the evidence did not show that supervised injecting facilities had any sort of honeypot effect.” 

The report said there can be a “considerable burden” on the clinical lead, who is regularly on call.

It noted the reality that drug use occurred in drop-in centres and hostels and that these facilities have clinical waste bins in the toilets.

The report said there needed to be “proactive” engagement with the local community to allay their fears.

It said that in some locations, security staff are hired to manage and prevent congregation outside.

It found international experience showed there was “no increase” in crime.

But it said they do not solve the drug problem or lower drug consumption.

The report found police must adopt a balanced approach: “Police must not target the centre and users but also must not avoid the centre.” 

It said local gardai must be “educated” on how to police it and be brought on a tour of the facility.

Gardaí should exercise discretion, it said, and “common sense” dictated that people merely walking towards the centre should not be stopped and searched.

The report said decriminalisation had “little or no impact” on levels of drug use – but said that criminalisation created “unnecessary harms” on users.

It said that while there have been better outcomes in Portugal under its form of decriminalistion of possession, the benefits “are more likely to reflect a broader policy shift”.

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