SAFE injection rooms for drug-users could be an "option" to try to reduce the number of deaths in the Kingdom.

That's the view of Fife Council SNP co-leader David Alexander, who said "alternatives" had to be looked at as a way of reducing the number of lives lost to substance abuse and addiction.

There were 66 drug-related deaths in Fife in 2017 – the highest number ever recorded in one year.

And if you live in one of the Kingdom's most deprived areas, you are 19 TIMES more likely to be admitted to hospital due to substance abuse than those who stay in the least deprived areas.

The figures were included in an annual report by Dora Milne, the director of public health for Fife, in August.

The co-leaders' report at the last full council meeting, written by Cllr Alexander and Labour councillor David Ross, highlighted that drug deaths in Fife were among the highest in the country.

And it said: "The former UK Government drugs Tsar, David Nutt, has told the Home Office that it must allow for the introduction of safe injection rooms if it wants to reduce drug-related deaths.

"He said: 'Safe injecting rooms work. Not only do they save lives, they are also a gateway to rehabilitation and remove needles and other paraphernalia from our streets and paths. They are a triple win.'"

After the meeting, both co-leaders were asked by the Press if they were in favour of safe injecting rooms.

Only Cllr Alexander responded and he explained: "The current debate is centred on Glasgow, where they had specific proposals from professionals that have been rejected by the Westminster government.

"I’m in favour of having the right to have this option rather than not.

"At the moment, I’m not aware of any requests coming from Fife drugs professionals that they be created in Fife.

"I’d imagine our widespread geography is totally different from the centralised position in Glasgow which may be the reason given the numbers involved."

He continued: "I think we need to support the right of Glasgow where the problem is intense to have this facility and monitor the impact.

"We also need to see what comes from the new Scottish drugs death committee.

"It is early days but there is no doubt we have to look at alternatives and recognise that every death is someone’s sibling or parent or brother/sister.

"Every death is a tragedy and we have to do everything we can to reduce and eliminate this devastating impact on so many communities."

A national issue, the Scottish Government has set up a taskforce to tackle drug deaths, which hit a record high in 2018.

And at the recent SNP party conference, a motion passed by delegates called for the decriminalisation of the "consumption and possession of controlled drugs".

Andrew Horne, director of Scotland’s biggest drug and alcohol charity, Addaction, said: “We warmly welcome the SNP’s decision to officially support the decriminalisation of drugs in Scotland.

"Trying to arrest our way out of the problem has been a monumental failure, so it’s heartening to see a political party listening to the evidence base.

“People who develop problems with drugs need compassion and support, not punishment. It’s crucial to remember that drug use has no social barriers. People from all walks of life use drugs and all deserve equal treatment for what is ultimately a health and care issue – not a criminal one.”

Currently drugs legislation is a reserved matter for Westminster with the Home Office refusing to give permission for a trial of safe injection rooms in Glasgow.

Scottish ministers have argued that drugs control should be devolved to Holyrood.