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Author: Nigel Brunsdon

Drug Consumption Rooms

Earlier on this year in September the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that the Harper government couldn’t close the Insite safer injection facility in Vancouver. Insite, which in 2009 had over 250,000 visits from people using its facilities, opened in 2003. In the time it has been operating it has received strong local support especially from the Mayors of Vancouver who irrespective of their party have always fought to keep it open.

In 2009, almost 500 people overdosed on the premises but because of the medical staff on hand none of these people died. Staff at Insite (and other facilities like it around the world) provide advice on safer injecting, sterile equipment, wound care and a safe warm place to use rather than injecting in public areas of the city. Insite also helps people access treatment services and rehabs directly.

UK Situation

In the UK there have been previous calls to pilot drug consumption rooms, not only from organisations like the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (paper Apaper B) but also from David Cameron who in 2002 voted in favour of supervised injecting rooms being launched in the UK.

However, there are also many people who suggest that opening drug consumption rooms sends out the wrong message to people using drugs, and that providing injectors with somewhere that removes many of the risks of injecting may give them a false sense of security.

Martin Chandler

Martin Chandler (BSc, MSc, PGCE) is currently completing a PhD at the University of Birmingham, exploring the use of Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs (IPEDs) in athletes, having previously worked there as a Research Fellow in Performance Enhancing Drugs.

Prior to joining the University of Birmingham, Martin was a Research Fellow in Human Enhancement Drugs, based at Liverpool John Moores University and has been studying the use of IPEDs since 2006, as well as providing consultation around injecting drug use. He was also Co-Chair of the National Needle Exchange Forum (NNEF) from 2009-2012 and Chair from 2012-2013.

He has presented at both national and international conferences on a range of issues around IPED use and contributed to local and national government guidance on the provision of services for IPED clients. He provides training around anabolic steroid use to healthcare and other professionals, with a focus on service provision for this client group. He has also provided expert witness testimony in a number of high profile cases involving anabolic steroids.

Pip Mason

Pip Mason is a trained nurse and counsellor and has worked in the addictions field since 1975 in day centres, rehabilitation centres, prisons and primary care.

She is a member of the international Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers and co-author of Health Behaviour Change: a Guide for Practitioners.

Shelly Stoops

Shelly has been working with victims of rape and domestic and sexual abuse since the late 1990s. She is currently the Interim Manager of a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC).

She has presented and delivered papers at a wide range of conferences on the subject of violence against sex workers. She was involved in writing and developing national good practice and has published on the subject of violence against sex workers in several journals.

Her specialist areas are violence against sex workers, sexual and domestic violence/abuse, trafficking and sexual exploitation. She sits on local, regional and national forums relating to these issues.

Shelly was recently nominated for the Women in Public Life ‘Public Servant of the Year’ Award by Baroness Vivien Stern. She won the award and received it in London on 13th September 2011.

Mat Southwell

Mat has worked in the drugs and HIV fields as a practitioner, manager and activist for 30 years. Mat was an early harm reduction worker in the UK and in 1991 founded the pioneering Healthy Options Team (HOT), a harm reduction agency that employed peer workers and used community mobilisation strategies with people who use drugs (PWUD).

Mat went on to be Head of Service for the wider health-based drug services in East London until 1998. This included managing Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST) programmes and reorganising drug treatment services to promote the involvement of General Practitioners and the effective management of PWUD with complex needs.

He has sustained an interest in developing collaborative peer and professional responses to new drugs trends and stimulant drugs. Mat has a particular interest in ketamine and recently gave evidence to the UK’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs Working Group on Ketamine.

Mat is also an experienced drug policy and drugs/HIV global advocate.

Nigel Brunsdon

Nigel has over a decade of experience of working within needle and syringe programmes both as practitioner and a manager. He ran the popular harm reduction website, Injecting, since the start of 2007.

In 2011 Nigel began his job as HIT’s Community Manager, managing HIT’s social media profile, as well as creating and managing a number of our online projects including He can normally be seen at our conference and harm reduction cafe events hiding behind a camera and has started moving his own work more towards documenting the harm reduction movements around the world.

He is passionate about harm reduction approaches to substance use, and is also the Deputy Chair of the National Needle Exchange Forum.