Today, we publish a shocking image that shows the true depravity surrounding public drug use in Dundee. Our reporter Stefan Morkis explains the scene he found in a busy city centre car park following a family day out
This weekend, my family was confronted with the cruel, harsh reality of rampant drug abuse.
Having enjoyed a trip to the shops we returned to pick up our car at Bell Street car park – where we discovered an unconscious and half-naked drug addict lying in the stairwell.
Bear in mind, this was mid-afternoon on a Saturday and the car park was busy with families just like mine.
It appeared the man had partially removed his trousers to find a place to inject drugs before passing out in the stairwell, just by the lifts on level three of the car park.
A bloody syringe lay adjacent to his prone body.
We were just a few hundred yards away from the waterfront, scene of one of Scotland’s most ambitious and exciting regeneration projects.
The location is also just yards from Police Scotland’s Tayside headquarters.
Our first reaction was concern for him but there was also an element of
revulsion – and there was certainly fear as well.
We were with our one-year-old and there were other children in the car park as we came out of the lift and almost literally tripped over him.
The man was quickly given appropriate care although, as his identity is not known, his current condition is unknown.
Given that security guards were already on their way when we went to alert them to the man’s plight, it is unlikely we were the first to stumble upon the addict, which begs a few obvious questions.
How would anyone explain such a scene to their children? Why should
anyone even have to?
Being the parent of a one-year-old is a wonderful thing.
Sure, they can be a handful, you are permanently tired and their nappies are a constant source of terror and amazement but mostly they bring
nothing but joy.
Fortunately, they are also too young to remember things like the time their
parents nearly pushed their buggy into the half-naked heroin addict passed out in a car park.
While my son was oblivious to the scene in front of him, children just a year or two older would not have been.
We certainly were not the only family using Bell Street car park at the time. In fact, it was another couple with two older children who had let us into the lift ahead of them.
The sad truth is there are now two Dundees.
Whether it is the debasement of someone pulling down their trousers to find a vein so they can shoot up in a public car park, prostitutes selling themselves for their next fix on Arbroath Road or the shoplifters and housebreakers clogging up the sheriff court, there is an entire substratum of society operating solely on the sale, pursuit and purchase of heroin.
By and large, we choose to ignore until it is directly in front of us.
Even as a reporter who has staked out drug dealers and written stories about the impact of hard drugs, Saturday’s incident – in the middle of the day in the heart of Dundee – was disturbing.
Sadly, images like this are becoming all too common.
There is much to be proud of in the city and its redevelopment.
There are so many good things happening but, sadly, we still have this terrible problem with drugs. It is desperately depressing.
The waterfront and the V&A will mean nothing if the lasting impressions visitors take away from our city is addicts passed out in car parks or shambling glassy-eyed through the city centre.
Addiction is an illness but until we recognise it is as much a social one as a personal one, we will continue to find that second society bubbling up to infect our own.
EDITORIAL OPINION — WHY WE CHOSE TO PUBLISH THIS SHOCKING IMAGE