Drug-taking kits might be handed out in Scottish prisons, it emerged yesterday.
The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) confirmed it was in discussions about possibly introducing a scheme early next year.
The kits are likely to include syringes, swabs, filters and a sharps disposal box.
Craiginches Prison in Aberdeen, where drug-taking is particularly high among inmates, is one of those under consideration. It is hoped the scheme will help to counter the spread of HIV and AIDS.
An SPS spokesman said: "If you look at prisoner surveys, some say they have shared needles in prison.
"There will always be people who continue to take drugs in prison.
"If you're not going to change that behaviour and have people who are going to do this, we have a responsibility to them and to make sure that our staff are safe."
He said that the kits would reflect needle exchange programmes which already operate in the community.
The move can be taken at the discretion of the prison service and does not need to be approved by ministers.
Other European countries, including the Republic of Ireland, Switzerland, Germany and Spain already run such schemes, but Scotland would be the first in the UK to do so.
(c) The Scotsman