Room for improvement

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This article was published online in December 2020, and then updated for the May 2023 print edition. Those updates are encapsulated in this ‘postscript’ from Gillian:

Peter’s drug consumption van opened in 2020, and then closed due to lack of sustainability and support in May 2021. In December 2021, Faculty of Public Health led a cross-sector call signed by 70 organisations (including the British Psychological Society) and an additional number of individual signatories for Government to pilot Overdose Prevention Centres in the UK.

Today, knowing Peter’s van has successfully intervened in nine overdoses, supervised over a thousand injection events, some of which have been captured in our proof of concept evaluation (Shorter et al., 2022), we still wait for that official pilot.

Peter closed the van when the stress of running a service on donations, and the lack of wider adoption, forced closure. A letter of comfort from the Lord Advocate is urgently needed to facilitate change in Scotland. Local memorandums of understanding with policing colleagues could also offer support to those running or using a service. Even UN Conventions which take a prohibitionist stance on drugs, make exceptions for health and scientific advances which save lives (APPGDPR, 2015).

Peter and I have become friends following the evaluation of his site: researchers and providers working together. There are some glimmers of hope: Belfast City Council have recently passed a resolution to discuss DCRs for Belfast. We have obtained funding from the National Institute of Health Research to support developing DCR service models and evaluation (NIHR204582: OPSPrep: Developing the service and evaluation model for overdose prevention services PI: Shorter GW, Stevens AW). But every moment of delay in opening official services across the UK costs lives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-41
Number of pages4
JournalThe Psychologist
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 01 May 2023


  • drug consumption rooms
  • overdose prevention centres
  • safe injecting spaces
  • overdose prevention
  • drug-related deaths

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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