Needle war gets under way

TOWN chiefs are today waging a battle against irresponsible drug addicts who dump their needles on the streets of Ipswich.

TOWN chiefs are today waging a battle against irresponsible drug addicts who dump their needles on the streets of Ipswich.

Last year there were more than 100 reports of drug needles being dumped on Ipswich streets and now council leaders say they are taking steps to eradicate the problem.

The needles, which are commonly used to inject either heroin or a mixture of heroin and crack cocaine, can carry diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.

If someone accidentally breaks their skin on an infected needle they risk catching a potentially devastating disease.

Town chiefs say the figure - 117 reports in 2007/08 - is relatively low for a town the size of Ipswich but have taken a number of steps to confront the problem.

Theses include:

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Needle bins on Civic Drive and in Tower Ramparts

Educating schoolchildren about the dangers of needles

Working to promote the use of needle exchanges

Latest figures show council officers were called out to collect needles 32 times between April and June this year.

Glynis Wood, Cleaner Neighbourhoods team leader at Ipswich Borough Council, said people are widely aware of the dangers of needles and it is irresponsible of drug users not to dispose of them safely.

She said: “It is not a nice thing for people to come across.

“There are needle exchanges where drug users can take their old needles back and swap them for new ones.”

Ms Wood said reports of discarded needles are received from all areas of town including parks and near children's play areas.

A previous hotspot was the car park above the Blockbuster video store on St Matthew's Street while callouts have also been received for Norwich Road, Bramford Road, London Road and Cliff Lane, among others.

She said the danger is that addicts sometimes discard needles in shrubbery or bushes - a move that can place council gardeners or members of the public at risk

She added: “There is help out there - people don't need to discard their needles.”

Louise Gooch, responsible for environment at Ipswich Borough Council, said: “We would urge people if they see anything to report it to the Cleaner Ipswich hotline.

“We are required to get to those places within two hours and would ask people to give a good description of the location so it is easy for our officers to find.”

n. Are you concerned about the threat of discarded needles? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk