Call for action over Ballingry “drugs den” as needles found behind shops

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Ballingry residents have called for action to be taken after a “drugs den” was discovered behind a takeaway shop.

Horrified chip shop worker Shaf Ali found discarded needles, spoons and other drugs paraphernalia at the back of his premises at Benarty Square.

Concerns have been raised local youngsters congregating behind the shops could sustain needlestick injuries.

Mr Ali contacted local Labour councillor Mary Lockhart and the mess, which was discovered on Monday, has since been cleared up.

“It’s disgusting,” he said.

“It’s not safe around the back of the shops. No matter how much you tell them, local kids will hang about there.

“Last week, there were about 15 kids hanging about there.”

Mr Ali suggested there should be a “safe house” for addicts to inject heroin, to prevent it happening on the street.

“They need somewhere to do it safely rather than putting everyone else at risk,” he said.

Ms Lockhart said she would be raising the issue with the council’s community and housing services committee.

“I think that’s something the community and housing community will have to discuss and see if they can come up with a solution.”

She said a “safe house” might not be welcomed by residents.

“It would mean we would have a whole street absolutely infuriated because that’s where all the drug users are going,” she said.

Clean needles are distributed by pharmacies across Fife through a NHS scheme to protect drug users from blood-borne infections.

Ms Lockart added: “They ask people not to use it in public places and give them special sharps boxes for their own needles.

“Clearly, some people are not availing themselves of that.”

Rosewell Pharmacy in Ballingry is one of the outlets participating in the scheme.

Pharmacy owner Alan McDonald said Rosewell decided to deliver the needle exchange scheme, where drug users are asked to return syringes, after the mobile needle exchange unit serving the village was discontinued.

He said: “We were at the point, a number of years ago, when the service was going to fall completely out of Ballingry and there were a lot of vulnerable people who could be exposed to a lot of horrible viruses.

“It wasn’t a decision that was taken lightly.

“I agree, it is disgraceful. We would take everything that was there is they returned their sharps boxes. All they have to do is hand them in.

“But we’re talking about people with a lot of problems.”

Dawn Jamieson, team manager of Fife Council’s Safer Communities team, said: “Safer Communities officers are now aware of the issue of discarded needles in this area and will begin making regular patrols to monitor this and report any incidents to the police.

“We urge people to report any discarded needles by calling Fife Council’s contact centre on 03452 555555 who will provide the appropriate advice.”

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