Over 700 supervised drug-consumptions have taken place in Gate, the Belgian capital’s first reduced-risk drug-use site, since it opened four months ago. Mayor Philippe Close has made the following statement on Monday at a City Council meeting.
Responding to a query from Christen Democratisch en Vlaams (CD&V), councillor Bianca Debaets on the results of the first four months of the site’s operation, the mayor said it was too early to draw conclusions or make adjustments, but that there had been no incidents.
Gate opened on May 5, and July 31, 249 persons had registered with the site. It received 1,935 visits representing 734 supervised drug use sessions. The average age of the visitors was 41 years, 90% were male, 9% female and 1% were transgender.
Mayor Close said that, “This facility is a gateway to care and support for a vulnerable target audience. Eighty-eight per cent of visitors say they have no other option than Gate, so we can conclude that we have avoided more than 600 cases of drug use in public spaces since it opened.”
At the same time, Debabets had a different take on the issue, “It is only partly due that they do not use it on the street or in the subway, “She argued. “Once they have been in the centre to inject the heroin into their arms, you put them back out onto the streets. In that sense, you basically do not change anything.”