Waiting for the Van

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Manage episode 298126252 series 1301233
By BBC and BBC Radio 4. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
"I couldn't stand back anymore and just watch people die." In September 2020, drug policy activist Peter Krykant decided he'd had enough. The former heroin addict, turned frontline campaigner, bought a minivan and kitted it out with sanitisers and needles, a supply of naloxone- the medication used to reverse an opioid overdose- and a defibrillator. He parked it in Glasgow's city centre and opened its doors to homeless drug users who are most at risk of overdose. The van is operating as a drug consumption room (DCR), which are widely used in Europe and North America. But in Britain they're considered illegal under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act, though legal experts dispute that. Scotland now holds a per capita death rate three times higher than anywhere else in Europe, tallying six straight years of record-setting, drug-related deaths. The SNP government has expressed support for bold initiatives, like DCRs, but claims its hands are tied by Westminster. A few years ago the Home Office had stepped in to halt plans for permament site in Glasgow. Since then DCRs have been at the centre of fierce debate. For Peter Krykant, setting up the van is not just about saving lives, but challenging drug policy. Presenter Dani Garavelli recorded with Peter at the van over eight months, getting to know him, his family and the users who rely on the service. Producer: Caitlin Smith

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