The Injection Box 2000-2


Both the Communications for the Future and another research project on homeless people I was managing at the time, led us to look at where the homeless population were injecting. Quite often injection took place in informal ‘shooting galleries’, which were just about the most unhygienic places you could think of to use the sterile equipment the needle exchange had given out. This issue led us to develop an injection box that was designed as a ‘safe space’ and was filled with all the injection equipment needed for a day.


The box was designed for homeless injectors who were in daily contact with the needle exchange. Once used, the box could be disposed of in a Sharps Bin and a new one picked up from the exchange. The development of this box and the injection equipment inside it led to us being threatened with arrest under section 9a of the Misuse of Drugs Act. This issue is described in more detail in an article I wrote for Druglink magazine at the time.


By 2002 we were under siege. We were still under threat of arrest for the Injection Box when we were burgled and had all our computers smashed. Then the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) report came out. The Committee, (including future Prime Minister David Cameron) had visited the department and taken me to dinner. They were as nice as pie to my face but singled out the department as the scapegoats for an entire national report as (I presume) they were trying to deflect attention away from the fact they had recommended downgrading the legal status of MDMA and LSD.


I was accused of ‘crossing a line’ and promoting drug use. This led to the Government trying (illegally) to try and stop anybody buying the publications with public money: we were under investigation by the Charity Commission and The National Lottery; we had complaints from Prison Officers Association sent to the Prime Ministers Office and were under attack by the entire national right wing press (the Daily Mail called us ‘Groovy right on activists’). There is more information about this issue in an article I wrote for DrugLink magazine in 2005.


The box was never put out, but the subsequent furor and media storm created by us refusing to kowtow led in the following year to the Misuse of Drugs Act being amended to allow for the wider provision of injection equipment at needle exchanges. The department survived; in fact it had the most financially successful year in its history.


> Injection & Moral Outrage

The Injection Box 2000-2
Dig 1997 Better Injecting 2000-1 Going in the Groin 2001
Smoking Brown 2001 Overdose 2001 The Injection Box 2000-2
Speedballs 2006 Simple Safer Shooting 2008 Better Injecting 2013