A TOP ranking Hampshire police boss has said the force will “consider the evidence” before making a decision on possible drug-taking rooms in Southampton.

The European-style ‘drug consumption rooms’ (DCRs) will be discussed by a special council-led inquiry today.

Civic chiefs will look at the effectiveness of the facilities, popular in countries such as the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland, as a potential solution to the city’s drug litter problem.

It comes after 7,000 pieces of drug paraphernalia were found in Southampton last year – the majority of which were needles.

Critics have urged caution over the introduction of so-called ‘shooting galleries’ in the city, with some raising concerns about promoting crime.

Ahead of the meeting, Hampshire Constabulary’s detective chief inspector, Ben Chivers, said the force was “looking forward to the inquiry’s findings.”

He said: “We advocate the exploration of new and innovative ways to reduce related drug harm and we know our role as police in this task is significant through tackling drug supply and demand.

“The inquiry panel has had a review of the evidence conducted for the use of drug consumption rooms, which will be presented this week.

“As with all evidence bases, the advantages and disadvantages need to be considered in order for us achieve the best result for our communities.”

According to a report, set to be discussed by the inquiry, DCRs can reduce disease transmission, prevent drug-related overdose deaths and connect high-risk users with social services.

If council bosses push forward with plans for such a centre, it would be the first in the UK.

NHS bosses in Glasgow previously toyed with bringing DCRs to the UK, going as far to purchase a building.

But plans were stalled by the Home Office, who raised concerns over its legality.

It is a view shared by Itchen MP, Royston Smith, who described the idea as a “sticky wicket”.

He said: “I do see there are some benefits, but I can understand why the government is concerned.

“These people will be getting their drugs through dealers, who are criminals, and some will be getting money for the drugs through criminal acts.”

Recent figures by the Office of National Statistics show that almost one in three drug overdoses in Europe were recorded in the UK, while Home Office statistics suggest that illegal drug use costs the economy over £10bn a year.

Drug-help charity, Release, who support introducing DCRs, say they would reduce drug deaths.

City council community safety boss, Dave Shields has promised to look into the inquiry’s findings, set to be discussed later this year.