cphpost.dk, January 10, 2013
Copenhagen: City Council planning more injection rooms
Vesterbro's injection room has saved at least six lives and led to a dramatic drop in the dangerous drug paraphernalia left in public.
The injection room for drug users that opened in Vesterbro last October has been such a success that the City Council is considering opening three more in other parts of Copenhagen.
It took Vesterbro residents 20 years to convince the government to allow the city to open a facility where injecting drug users can take their drugs off the streets and take them under the supervision of health workers.
Since its opening, drug users have flocked to the injection room where staff reportedly hand out more than 200 clean needles every day.
The impact on the neighbourhood has been noticeable, and the City Council now collects considerably fewer used needles from Vesterbro's streets every day - half a kilogram's worth.
The success of the injection room has led to a city council member, Lars Aslan Rasmussen (Socialdemokraterne), declaring that the programme should be emulated in the Nordvest, Sydhavn and Amager districts of the city.
“We knew it would be a success, but it's surprising and enormously positive how great a success it is,” Rasmussen told Ritzau. “So we are moving ahead with plans for more injection rooms in other parts of Copenhagen.”
Rasmussen added that while the current City Hall and national centre-left government support the injection rooms, a future centre-right government would be more critical of the programme.
“If Venstre can be shown how successful the injection rooms are, they will have a harder time ending the programme,” Aslan said, adding that the programme needs to be expanded before a potential shift in power. “It will be harder to close four rooms than just one.”
While the injection room has successfully taken drug users off the streets, Ritzau also reports that the injection room has also saved lives. Health workers at the room have given emergency treatment to ten users who were overdosing or had taken the wrong drug - six of whom would have probably died without the treatment.
The injection room opened this October on Halmtorv square in Vesterbro as a temporary solution before a more permanent facility is ready in the men's shelter, Mændenes Hjem on Istedgade, next summer.
A Copenhagen Post investigation last year revealed that there had been strong disagreement over the City Council's eventual decision to place the permanent injection room in Mændenes Hjem.
The City Council defended its decision, stating that it was the best available option given financial and time constraints.