Dying Homeless Coalition writes to Home Secretary, urges harm reduction policies to fight overdose crisis

Dying Homeless Coalition writes to Home Secretary, urges harm reduction policies to fight overdose crisis
10th September 2021 Jessica Turtle

The Dying Homeless Coalition has written to the Home Secretary to urge the government to reconsider its stance on Drug Consumption Rooms (DCRs) in light of sharply increasing deaths due to drug related factors.

The Dying Homeless Coalition is a national coalition of medical professionals, homelessness workers, volunteers, community organisers, journalists and people who have been or are still homeless. The Dying Homeless Coalition takes action to prevent the deaths of people who are homeless. The group is facilitated by Museum of Homelessness which through the Dying Homeless Project, independently documents and remembers every person who dies whilst homeless in the UK.

We are deeply concerned about rising numbers of opioid-related deaths in recent weeks as reported by Public Health England and as monitored by the Dying Homeless Project.  We are also concerned about the clear evidence of year on year increases in deaths in the homeless population, with the highest proportion of deaths linked to substance misuse.

We have therefore written to the Home Secretary on 10th September 2021 to urge the government to reconsider introducing drug consumption rooms (DCRs). There is a wealth of international evidence that these harm reduction spaces reduce fatalities, improve access to other services, improve public spaces and save money.

There is overwhelming evidence internationally for the effectiveness of DCRs. This evidence tells us that DCRS:

  • Decrease drug related overdose and decrease overdose related mortality
  • Enhance safe injecting practice
  • Decrease public drug use and improve public amenity
  • Increase access to treatment and other social services
  • Yield cost savings by preventing blood borne virus transmission and fatal overdoses

The situation could not be more urgent and we are today calling for the government to allow local authorities the discretion to develop trauma informed, carefully evaluated pilots of DCRs, as locally-led solutions to this crisis

You can read the letter here Open Letter re DCR September 2021 FINAL and you can read some of the evidence we have reviewed below.

Kerr et al, 2006b, Marshall et al, 2011, Milloy et al, 2008b, Salmon et al, 2010, van Beek et al, 2004, Andresen and Boyd 2010) in https://www.uniting.org/content/dam/uniting/documents/community-impact/uniting-msic/overview-of-international-literature.pdf

Bravo et al, 2009, Kerr et al, 2005, Kinnard et a, 2014, Stoltz et al, 2007b, Wood et al, 2005b, Zurhold et al, 2003. https://www.uniting.org/content/dam/uniting/documents/community-impact/uniting-msic/overview-of-international-literature.pdf

Kimber and Dolan, 2007, Mcknight et al, 2007, Petrar et al, 20007, Salmon et al, 2007, Thein et al, 2005, van derPoel et all, 2003, Wood et al, 2004c Zurhold et al, 2003 https://www.uniting.org/content/dam/uniting/documents/community-impact/uniting-msic/overview-of-international-literature.pdf

Kimber et al 2008b, Lloyd-Smith et al, 2008, 2009, 2010 Wood et al 2006d, 2007, Zurhold et al 2003https://www.uniting.org/content/dam/uniting/documents/community-impact/uniting-msic/overview-of-international-literature.pdf

Andresen and Boyd, 2010, Bayouni and Zaric, 2008, Marwick et al 2014, Marshall et al 2009, Pinkerton, 2010,2011, Wood et al 2005dhttps://www.uniting.org/content/dam/uniting/documents/community-impact/uniting-msic/overview-of-international-literature.pdf

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/368489/DrugsInternationalComparators.pdf

Drug users urged to be extra careful following a high number of likely heroin overdoses – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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