First drug 'shooting gallery' to open in French hospital despite protests

Drug consumption facilities with clean needles and staffed with counsellors and health workers to open at Lariboisière hospital in Paris.

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The Paris city council announced Monday that France's first drug consumption room will open in the Lariboisière hospital, following a campaign by residents against it opening in another neighbourhood, reports RFI.

Also called “fix rooms” or “shooting galleries”, drug consumption facilities provide users with clean needles and come staffed with counsellors and health-care workers. Once inside the building, drug users can’t be prosecuted.

the scheme's supporters say such places help reduce drug-related crime and disease for the more than 80,000 intravenous drug users in France. The French National Assembly voted to authorised the opening of fix rooms on an esperimental basis last month.

But opponents say it will increase insecurity and drug use in the area.

The move “won’t change anything in terms of insecurity since they have moved the problem to another street”, Serge Lebigot, the president of the organisation Parents contre la drogue, told RFI.

“In reality, around fix rooms there's what’s called a lawless zone, that is to say a perimeter of about 300 meters, where the police can’t go to avoid scaring addicts,” Lebigot explains. “We know that the dealers will come there. I pity the people who will have to go the emergency room in that hospital.”

France is not the first country to experiment with fix rooms. Germany, The Netherlands, Australia and the Canadian city of Vancouver have all opened such places in recent years.

Read more of this report from RFI.

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