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Planned 'safe' centre for Paris drug addicts binned

Ben McPartland · 10 Oct 2013, 14:01

Published: 10 Oct 2013 14:01 GMT+02:00

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Earlier this summer hundreds of residents around Gare du Nord protested against plans to open up a “drugs centre” for addicts in the neighbourhood around the station.

On Thursday those protesters will be breathing a sigh of relief after the Conseil d’Etat, (State Council) which acts as a legal advisors to the government, ruled that the drug centre, known as a “salle de shoot” in France, could not go ahead.

The council ruled that a law must first be drawn up and passed through parliament before the centre could legally be opened.

"The Conseil d'Etat showed we were right all along," Serge Lebigot from the organisation Parents Against Drugs told The Local. "The government had tried to force this through, without having any kind of debate. That discussion must now take place in parliament."

The move has come as blow to the Socialist government and in particular Paris mayoral candidate Anne Hidalgo who wanted the pioneering project open before the 2014 local elections.

Hidalgo stressed the importance of the trial drug centre to “public health” and vowed to push on with the plan despite the setback. France's Minister for Health Marisol Touraine also pledged the government would push on with the plan despite the setback, saying officials would set to work on drawing up legislation.

Drug centres already exist in other countries in Europe with Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal and the Netherlands, having opened similar locations. A “salle de shoot” is designed to get vulnerable addicts off the streets and into a safer environment where conditions are more hygienic andthey can be observed by professionals.

Local residents in Paris had reacted angrily in May when the government revealed that 39, Boulevard de la Chapelle just behind Gare du Nord, in one of the capital's more impoverished neighbourhoods, was to be home to the country's first drug 'safe house' for addicts.

Remi Feraud the Mayor of the 10th arrondissement, which includes Gare du Nord, had 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.”

The safe zone was to 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.

Lebigot from Parents Against Drugs said: "This is just about legalising drugs. There's no proof that these centres actually help cut the rates of HIV etc."

Story continues below…

Hidalgo’s rival for the Paris Mayor spot Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, from the opposition UMP party, was pleased with Conseil d’Etat’s ruling.

“The council’s opinion is a real bow to the Socialist municipality and reflects the amateurism of the way this project has been led,” she said.

“By highlighting its illegality the government will not be able to force through a violation in the law.”

"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.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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