More than 1,000 discarded needles found in Wolverhampton, but the number is falling
The number of dangerous needles ditched by drug addicts across Wolverhampton has fallen by more than half over the past year.
More than 1,400 syringes and other items of drugs paraphernalia were discarded in the city's streets during the past 12 months. That compared with more than 3,500 found between 2015 and 2016.
The drop in needles dumped in the city has been welcomed by Wolverhampton council, which claimed its improved safety measures are 'taking effect'.
Councillor Paul Sweet, cabinet member for public health and wellbeing, said: "The council and its partners work hard to tackle the issue of discarded needles, with the council's environmental service team removing drug paraphernalia found in public areas on the same day it is reported whenever possible – indeed last year all reported needles were cleared away within one working day.
"The team also cuts back shrubbery to restrict hiding places which could be used for drug taking purposes, and share information about hotspots with the council's public health team to enable it to provide targeted help and support.
"Injecting is extremely risky and we always urge people not to do it in the first place. However, we recognise that some people, for whatever reason, will not be ready to stop drug use completely."
The council's environmental services team collected 1,467 syringes and drugs paraphernalia over the past year, compared with 3,807 between 2015 and 2016.
It also uncovered 3,901 needles and other paraphernalia between 2014 and 2015, the council said.
The 'big reduction' is down to the council, police and other agencies uniting to target known hot spots and areas where drug activity is rife.
Councillor Sweet said: "The police, Wolverhampton anti-social behaviour team and the drug and alcohol treatment service Recovery Near You provide advice and support to drug users who are not in treatment, which can also be followed up with targeted criminal or civil enforcement action against problem users where necessary."
A needle exchange service, which is available at some pharmacies across the city, has also helped slash numbers of discarded needles.
Drug addicts swap used needles for clean sterile equipment, as well as receive advice about services available to battle their substance misuse.
Last year, abut two thirds of syringes handed out by pharmacists were returned safely, the council revealed.
Councillor Sweet added: "The needle exchange is a powerful tool to prevent harm, and so - like other places - we provide this discreet service through a number of local community pharmacies and Recovery Near You.
"It has helped reduce the sharing of dirty needles, which can cause the transmission of viruses and other infections such as HIV and hepatitis A and B, and cut the amount of equipment dumped in public areas.
"It's important to stress that the needle exchange service is not about condoning or supporting drug use, it is about protecting everyone - both users and the wider population - from harm.
"While the majority of discarded needles are found by council workers and other partners, we also rely upon members of the public to bring issues to our attention.
"I would urge anyone who spots needles or other drugs paraphernalia to report it to us immediately so that we can safely dispose of it, and not try to clear it up themselves."
To report discarded needles email email@example.com or call 01902 551155.