Thursday, 1 February 2007

Warning over discarded syringes

Liberal Democrat Councillor, Joyce Benbow, has highlighted the dangers of picking up discarded needles after several incidents relating to drug use in the East Cleveland area.

The Council's Environmental Maintenance Team has been alerted to attend several locations in Loftus to remove drugs paraphenalia, while another report gives evidence of a discarded needle found on a play area in the town.

Syringes, with evidence of drug use, some found hidden in the brickwork, were discovered in the two blocks of ladies toilets in Loftus, at West Road and Water Lane, at opposite ends of the High Street. Now the Council's Community Safety Wardens are monitoring the situation on a regular basis.

Since April, there have been 87 reported incidents, totalling over 150 syringes, which have been recovered across the Borough, underlining the need for the public's vigilance - and care in dealing with them.

The Council's Cabinet Member for Community Safety Councillor Joyce Benbow said: "These are disturbing incidents and we want the public to be on their guard.

"We have very efficient methods of disposal of these needles and our advice is very simple and straightforward: We do not want members of the public to pick these items up if at all possible.

"Addiction is a dreadful condition and the thoughtless disposal of needles, endangering children, is unforgivable."

The series of recommended steps is: If members of the public find a discarded needle on the road or open space, such as parks or beach areas, they must avoid picking it up. Its location should be marked with a piece of wood, brick or even a drinks can to help to identify its location. If the needle needs moving, the advice is to move it with a stick or something similar and not by hand.

A call to the Council's Contact Centre on 08456 126 126 with information on the exact location will be responded to immediately, with a promise to recover the needle by our Community Safety wardens inside two hours. The Council would also like the caller's name, address and contact number if it is unable to find the needle.

The Council cannot enter premises to remove needles or search properties. If needles are reported inside a property, it becomes the landlord's responsibility and we will offer advice.

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