Time for safer injecting spaces in Britain?

First published: 09 May 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019

Ms Natalie Davies

Co-editor of Drug and Alcohol Findings


Addressing a ‘ hot topic ‘ in the UK, this paper asks whether drug consumption rooms could be an effective way of addressing the individual and collective harms of public injecting.


The research involves a review of literature about the benefits of, and concerns over, so-called legal ‘ fixing rooms ‘.


International evidence of the implementation and effectiveness of drug consumption rooms is analysed alongside relevant UK policy.


The primary focus is on vulnerable groups at risk from public injecting.


The evidence covers two domains: the ‘ private harms ‘, for example overdose deaths and bloodborne viruses; and the ‘ public harms ‘, such as public disorder and crime.


There is no evidence of the feared adverse consequences of drug consumption rooms on communities or drug use and users. Provided the context is conducive, they provide an effective strategy for tackling public injecting and associated harms, particularly among the most marginalised drug users.


There are two scenarios in which support for drug consumption rooms could be generated in the future: firstly, if there were to be  a policy shift towards harm reduction, not just as a mechanism to engage drug users with treatment, but as a legitimate goal in itself; and secondly, if the UK were to reach a ‘tipping point ‘ in the degree of distress and nuisance perceived to be caused by public injecting, or the degree of concern over the concentration of overdose fatalities and infectious diseases in certain locations.


Natalie Davies and Mike Ashton (Co-Editors, Drug and Alcohol Findings)

Conflicts of interest:

No conflict of interest


Download the presentation

Download the full presentation here

Ms Natalie Davies