McInnes: 'Save Aberdeen’s Albyn House in 2016'

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes MSP today called for assurances from the Scottish Government that it will continue to support the specialist alcohol and drug detox facility at Aberdeen's Albyn House.

The centre on Dee Street operates as a safe house for those found drunk and incapable by police and who might otherwise be placed in a police cell or taken to hospital.

Mrs McInnes, who represents North East Scotland, tabled a series of parliamentary questions to ask the government how much funding it has allocated to the centre and what support it can provide to keep it open. As of April 2016, Aberdeen City Alcohol and Drug Partnership will cease funding for the designated place service. The Scottish Government has said there is no single best practice model and confirmed it has left the development of such services to local alcohol and drug partnerships.

Mrs McInnes said: "Albyn House has been praised as a 'unique unit' by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS), providing a warm and safe place for those found drunk and incapable who would otherwise be thrown into a police cell or taken to hospital.

"Staff at Alcohol Support told me that at this time of year especially, they are so glad to be able to provide a warm place for those who are alcohol-addicted and resultantly homeless. Without their service some would be condemned to trying to exist wearing the same damp clothes for weeks on end, without access to a shower or any respite from the cold.

"But there is a real risk these essential services could come to an end in Aberdeen. They should be being rolled out across Scotland, not being cut back. These facilities allow the NHS, Police Scotland and Scottish Government to save rather than spend, as they free up beds in hospitals and keep cells for criminals. What's more is that if the core funding is lost, the other services provided by volunteers such as counselling and other support available for alcoholics could also be lost.

"My questions to the Scottish Government aim to highlight to ministers the importance of guaranteeing continued funding for the service. There is a clear social and financial value to keeping Albyn House open, especially during the coldest months of the year."

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