Waiting For The Van


2021072020210725 (R4)I couldn't stand back anymore and just watch people die.

In September 2020, drug policy activist Peter Krykant decided he'd had enough. The former heroin addict, turned frontline campaigner, bought a minivan and kitted it out with sanitisers and needles, a supply of naloxone- the medication used to reverse an opioid overdose- and a defibrillator.

He parked it Glasgow's city centre and opened its doors to homeless drug users most at risk of overdose.

The van is operating as a drug consumption room (DCR), which is illegal under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act. DCRs are widely used in North America and Europe but in Britain they're illegal. Two years ago the Home Office stepped in to halt plans for a permanent site in Glasgow.

Right now, Scotland now holds a per capita death rate three times higher than anywhere else in Europe, tallying six straight years of record-setting, drug-related deaths. The SNP government has expressed support for bold initiatives, like DCRs, but claims its hands are tied by Westminster.

For Peter Krykant, setting up the van is not just about saving lives, but challenging drug policy.

Presenter Dani Garavelli recorded with Peter at the van over eight months, getting to know him, his family and the users who rely on the service.

Producer: Caitlin Smith

The story of one man's attempt to challenge fifty years of UK drug policy.