DORSET'S Police and Crime Commissioner is calling for supervised drug consumption rooms (DCRs) to be introduced.

PCC Martyn Underhill was one of several PCCs who recently wrote to home secretary Sajid David in support of the scheme.

"We have woken up to the fact that people will continue to take drugs, and rather than burying our heads in the sand we need to take a much more pragmatic approach", Mr Underhill wrote.

"We need to recognise that the way we’ve been trying to tackle drug use for decades has not worked. DCRs may well be an important part of the solution."

The treatment rooms allow drug users to inject in a safe environment, with sterilised equipment and medical help. It is claimed that the facilities have an international track record of reducing overdose deaths, whilst helping reduce needle littering and problems associated with public drug use.

Mr Underhill said that in the long term they could also help reduce the size of the illegal drugs market.

"These facilities put serious drug users – people who have traditionally been considered as ‘hard to reach’ by the authorities – into direct contact with the treatment services they need to start the long and difficult process of withdrawal", he added.

"We would like to see trials of supervised DCRs being established in areas... where they would be in the best interest of their communities."

The letter was signed by a group of 13 MPs and peers, and seven Police and Crime Commissioners.

Previously the home office has blocked the use of DCRs in the UK, due to fears that they condone drug use.

"Critics who are alarmed by this idea suggest it will encourage and therefore increase the use of illegal drugs, but all the evidence says this is not the case", Mr Underhill wrote.

"Senior officers around the country have said they have the right powers and knowledge... to enable these facilities to operate properly."

Drug Consumption Rooms operate in 16 countries around the world, and have been operating in Europe for the last three decades, according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction.

Benefits are said to include reduced nuisance behaviour associated with public drug use - such as needle littering - and a higher uptake of drug users engaging with treatment programmes.

Used needles were being collected from Weymouth Esplanade amid calls for a Drug Consumption Room trial.

"Officers have been out assisting Dorset Waste Partnership in the removal of used needles", a Dorset Council spokesman confirmed.

Last year the town was said to have some of the highest levels of heroin and morphine misuse deaths in the UK, according to the Office of National Statistics. And calls have previously been made to provide an area in town where addicts can take heroin safely in an effort to reduce drug-related deaths.

Cllr Jon Orrell Weymouth Town Councillor for Melcombe Regis and a GP in the area, is in favour of the scheme. "The commissioner is right. This is a good step forward in treatment and reducing crime", he said.

"The evidence is clear from other countries that have abandoned the failed 'war on drugs' approach.

"Weymouth, like every town, has the need for a new approach that would get needles off the streets."

A Weymouth campaign group, Health Not Harm, recently held an information stall in the town, and listened to residents' opinions about drug related issues.

Juliet Gilbert-Rolfe, Health Not Harm member, said: "Most people aren't aware of the options available to us such as Drug Consumption Rooms, but when you explain it they're not sure why we aren't doing it already."

Cllr Laura Miller, Dorset Council’s cabinet member for adult social care and health said:“We are committed to doing all we can to reduce harm associated with the use of drugs, working with partners to develop approaches that meet the needs of the community, in line with latest evidence.

"We would therefore be happy to be involved in discussions with Dorset Police to understand whether drug consumption rooms could be part of our approach.

“Guidance is needed from the government regarding the legal status of drug consumption rooms.”