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Tenants and drug-takers unite in plea for ‘shooting gallery’

Group wants safe-space for drug taking that moves addicts off streets and estates stairwells

22 August, 2018 — By Tom Foot

Churchway residents Gloria, Henna Begum, Thomas Looney, Mo Khan with Brett


TENANTS and hard drug-takers united in calls for a “shooting gallery” to be set up in Camden to help get addicts off the streets.

Residents in Churchway, Euston, have had years of problems with drug-takers and dealing in front of their block.

After talking to some of the drug users, they have teamed up to campaign for a safe space for addicts to take drugs and also get information about services. The system has been used to great effect in Denmark and in cities elsewhere in Europe.

Brett, a homeless graphic designer who takes heroin, said: “I think a shooting gallery is a brilliant idea. It’s not right for us to be here leaving things in the street and messing up the environment. There’s children around and I can’t bear it when I see people slumped in the street and in doorways – that’s often Spice that’s doing that to them.

“But you know a lot of the time it’s because there is no alternative. I think people would definitely use a shooting gallery, because they don’t want to be taking on the street, it’s humiliating. The thing people would be wary of, though, is whether police are going to be there searching and nicking you.”

The 28-year-old said he had come down from Leicester on the train a couple of years ago and pitched up close to Euston.

Yesterday, the estate’s residents set up their own art exhibition outside the estate, hanging photos on a washing line of discarded drug paraphernalia, bags of syringes and other “sharps” found near their homes. The photos also showed images of drug-taking at their blocks over several years.

Resident Henna Begum said: “We’ve read about the shooting gallery in Copenhagen and I think it sounds like a great idea for everyone. The council says it doesn’t have the manpower to do this sort of thing. What about the money from HS2? They’re spending all this money on an obsolete train.”

Mo Khan, who also lives on the estate, added: “It’s so twisted that they would rather have the cur- rent situation than giving drug users a safe place to go.”

Photos of drug-use hanging outside the estate 

The council’s safer communities chief, Nadia Shah, said: “Camden Council’s Routes off The Street strategy ensures all those involved in harmful street activity such as rough sleeping or street- based drug use receive a service offer, which means they can start rebuilding their lives away from the chaotic street setting.

“The council commis- sions specialist workers who work with drug users, and they look to ensure that engagement and onward referrals take place away from the street, utilising day centres and other safe places available to our teams. I encourage people to engage with these existing services.

“There are also a sub- stantial number of phar- macies across the borough which offer safe needle exchange, accessible for all drug users in the bor- ough.”

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