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Hundreds of hypodermic needles found in streets in Dundee

846 needles were uplifted by the council after being reported last year
846 needles were uplifted by the council after being reported last year

Shocking new statistics reveal over 800 hypodermic needles were found in Dundee last year, with one picked up every day in the city centre.

Commonly, needles are found after drug users shoot up in the street and then simply throw their used paraphernalia away, or put items down drains or service hatches.

The figures, released under Freedom of Information laws, show that across Dundee, 846 needles were uplifted by the council’s community safety wardens from January 2016 to December 2016.

The worst affected area was the city centre, where 365 had to be removed from public areas in the same time period.

The second worst area was Stobswell with 136, followed by Hilltown, where 66 were reported.

David Liddell, chief executive officer of the Scottish Drugs Forum, said introducing measures such as providing safer injecting facilities was key to tackling the drug problem in the city.

“The challenge for Dundee is to provide effective services for people who inject publicly,” he said.

“This group tend to be the most vulnerable group of people who experience drug problems and also can be hard to engage.

“Examples of approaches which have been adapted include outreach services and safer injecting facilitates.  These approaches aim to build trust with individuals and enable them to engage with other services. ”

Mr Liddell added that he believes the best overall approach is to take the service to individuals, rather than waiting for people to reach out for help.

He said: “There are strong arguments for these services on humanitarian grounds but also because they are proven to save costs to the health services, for example, in terms of saving treatment costs for hepatitis c or HIV.”

The figures show a significant decrease from 2013, when 2763 needles were found across the city.

From January to May this year however, 623 needles have been uplifted already, meaning the number is likely to rise again from last year.

Ken Lynn chair of the Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership said that, though the drop in the last few years was welcome, the council is committed to doing “everything possible” to ensure further reduction.

He said: “It is important to note that the number of needles being collected has reduced significantly in the past five years, which reflects the activity that is going on in our communities, but we are continuing to work hard to bring the numbers of used and discarded needles down even further.

“We work closely with colleagues in Care Scotland who deliver harm reduction services on our behalf across the city.

“Their work focusses on advice and encouragement to people not to inject in public places and not to discard used needles.

“Drug users are given every opportunity to return needles, use special sharps bins or otherwise dispose of them in a safe way for them and for the communities they live in.”

In September 2015, contractors working for Scottish Water pulled dozens of used hypodermic needles from drains and service hatches in a housing estate in Ardler, leading councillors to call for action on the problem.

 

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