About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) presents information on injecting equipment provision (IEP). This includes the number of outlets, attendances and the types of injecting equipment distributed to people who use illicit drugs (including Novel Psychoactive Substances and Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs) in Scotland in 2021/22.

Main points

In 2021/22:

  • There were 321 IEP outlets in Scotland. Although this was a 3% decrease compared to 2020/21 (330) it was the second highest number of outlets recorded since data collection began in 2007/08.
  • There were 146,137 attendances reported by IEP outlets, 9% fewer than in 2020/21 (160,337). This follows a decrease in attendances over the last six years.

Injecting Equipment Provision Attendances in Scotland; 2015/16 to 2021/22

  • Approximately 2.5 million needles and syringes were distributed. This was 9% lower than in 2020/21 (approximately 2.7 million) and follows a decrease over the last six years.
  • Wipes or swabs (approximately 2.2 million), and citric acid or vitamin C (approximately 1.9 million) were the most distributed items of other injecting equipment. Fewer of these items were distributed than in 2020/21 (approximately 2.5 million wipes or swaps and 2.2 million citric acid or vitamin C).
  • Possible explanations for the long-term decreasing trend in the number of IEP attendances and the number of injecting equipment items distributed include: changes in the number of people using drugs which are commonly injected (for example, opioids), and changes in the use of alternatives to injecting (for example, using foil for smoking drugs).
  • Following the implementation of COVID-19 mitigation measures (for example, temporary changes in the availability of IEP services due to staff absence and asking service users to attend IEP services less often), an increase in the number of needles and syringes distributed per attendance was seen in 2020/21. This change was sustained in 2021/22.


The purpose of injecting equipment provision is harm reduction. The provision of injecting equipment is effective in reducing injecting risk behaviours in people who use drugs. This intervention helps prevent the transmission of blood borne viruses such as hepatitis C and HIV among people who inject drugs.

IEP outlets are asked to report on the number of attendances, the number of needles and syringes, and items of other injecting equipment distributed. PHS are aware of some issues with data quality and completeness due to inconsistencies in reporting across NHS Boards. For more details, see Appendices A1.1 and A1.2 in the full report available from the publication page.

Find out more

The next release of this publication will be in autumn 2023.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.drugsteam@phs.scot.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 21 March 2024
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