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France

Paris shooting gallery to be set up near Gare de Nord

© Mehdi Chebil (Bern, Switzerland)

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-05-30

Drug users in Paris will be able to inject themselves in a secure and monitored environment after a site near the city’s busy Gare du Nord was agreed by the city authorities.

France is set to open its first “shooting gallery” – a secure environment for taking hard drugs – in Paris, local officials announced on Thursday.

A site had been approved between the city’s Gare du Nord train station in the city’s 10th arrondissement and the La Chapelle Metro stop.

The arrondissement’s mayor, Rémi Féraud, told a press conference on Thursday that the gallery would be open “by the autumn”.

He stressed that the site was “sufficiently far from residential areas, schools and shops to not pose a serious risk of public disorder.”

Once functioning, the gallery will provide free needles to drug users in a sterile environment monitored by healthcare professionals.

Féraud’s deputy Myriam El Khomri added that the project was “aimed at reducing the number of people taking drugs in the street, in common areas of apartment buildings and other areas such as car parks.”

The area would be given a boosted police presence, she added, to prevent dealers from selling their wares in the proximity.

The site is owned by French rail operator SNCF, which has agreed with the city authorities to maintain the facility for three years.

‘Open air drugs market’

The area around the Gare du Nord is already plagued by drugs and petty crime.

And the plan to open a shooting gallery there has attracted considerable hostility from local residents’ associations, who fear the area, described as an “open air drugs market”, will be further degraded by the presence of a shooting gallery.

A snap vote organised by a local councillor in April found that of 300 residents who cast their ballot, 93 percent were opposed to the opening of the gallery.

Paris already distributes free sterile needles for drug users. Of the 300,000 handed out in 2012, half of them were from distribution points near the Gare du Nord.

Shooting galleries exist in a handful of European countries, including France's neighbours Switzerland and Germany.

 

Date created : 2013-05-30

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