More needle finds prompt drugs evidence appeal

Police want more members of the public to come forward when they find discarded needles and other evidence of drug-taking.

Eighteen such discoveries were made and reported in the six months to the end of September, compared to 13 in the corresponding period last year. Items included needles, used syringes and burnt tin foil.

At last week’s meeting of the Police, Fire and Rescue and Safer Communities Board, Chief Inspector John Scott said that on no account should members of the public touch these items when they find them.

“While reports of these discoveries have gone up, this is one statistic I would like to see go much higher,” he stated. “So I would ask the public not to ignore these items, but to let us know.”

Reporting on the Newtown-based Safer Communities Team’s objective of reducing the negative impact of substance abuse, he said the number of people detected for supplying drugs over the six months was 27 – the same level as last year.

The board heard that 16 per cent of stop-and-searches for drugs had produced positive results – compared to 14 per cent last year.

On alcohol misuse, CI Scott said there had been an increase in the number of antisocial behaviour incidents which were drink-related – from 1,039 to 1,206.

Although the number of incidents relating to licensed premises had increased – from 176 to 209 – he said this was down to “more robust recording of incidents”.

“The fact is that the drinking culture has changed, with people pre-loading on cheap alcohol before going out, with the pubs only seeing them for perhaps two hours on a Saturday night,” said CI Scott.

“It is much easier for the police to influence behaviour in public places like pubs than it is in private houses so, yes, this is a challenge.”