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Paris venue chosen for first drug ‘safe house'

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File photo: Steven Depolo
17:30 CEST+02:00
French authorities finally revealed the location of the country's first 'safe house' for drug addicts on Thursday. The centre where users will be able to inject with clean needles and without fear of being arrested is close to Gare du Nord.

Authorities revealed on Thursday that 39, Boulevard de la Chapelle just behind Gare du Nord, in one of the capital's more impoverished neighbourhoods, will be home to the country's first drug 'safe house' for addicts.

Remi Feraud the local Mayor tried to calm fears by insisting the site was “far enough away from residential areas, schools and shops to not pose a serious risk of public disorder.”

It comes after the French Prime Minister’s office confirmed earlier this year the safe zone will open on an experimental basis and will be managed by the "Inter-ministerial mission for the fight against drugs and drug addiction" (Mildt) in conjunction with the Ministry of Health.

Drug 'safe houses', referred to in French as “salles de shoot” (shoot-up rooms) are currently illegal in France. They are designed to get vulnerable addicts off the streets and into a safer environment where conditions are more hygienic.

France's Minister for Health, Marisol Touraine announced  last year that the government would be looking to experiment with safe houses for addicts in 2013.

Similar venues are set to open in several other cities across France.

The scheme has provoked an angry response among members of France's opposition UMP party.

In a statement released on Tuesday UMP party secretary Camille Bedin said: "If one of these centres opens up then families living near by will suffer from the scourge of drug trafficking.

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“Prevention and punishment are the best means to fight against drugs, not consumption. The government is sending out the message that it tolerates drug trafficking.”

"Addicts need help, not a place to take drugs" - click here to find out what the people of Gare du Nord think about the project.

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