A Keighley charity that helps some 400 local heroin addicts has launched a campaign to bin every used needle after a nine-year-old girl was accidentally stabbed by a discarded syringe in the town’s Devonshire Park.
Shocking figures obtained by the Keighley News show in the past 12 months alone, Bradford Council street cleaners logged 77 incidents where they found dirty needles around the town.
And members of the public reported a further 145 incidents of discarded syringes across Keighley and Bradford during the same period.
Mike Cadger is the chief executive of Project 6 in Temple Street, a charity funded by Bradford Council and other bodies to help people cope with, and defeat, drug addiction.
“My response to the figures is these are worryingly high and raise concerns about public safety,” Mr Cadger said.
And he added Project 6 had launched a month-long campaign called ‘Bin Your Pin’ after reading in the Keighley News of the young girl injured by a needle while playing hide-and-seek.
Mr Cadger said it was vital to keep repeating the message that syringes must be disposed of safely.
“We regularly have campaigns on matters like this, and people are always encouraged to return the needles to us in the sharp bins they are given along with clean syringes,” Mr Cadger added.
Project 6 actually takes back more needles than it gives out.
“Yearly, we get more than 100 per cent returned compared to what we provide, and so we outperform every other needle exchange in Bradford district by quite some margin,” he said.
“Obviously, opiate and crack users are not a static population, so people travel from one end of the district to the other and we end up with the most needles.”
After reading about the case in Devonshire Park, Mr Cadger and colleagues paid a site visit, and he said there were clear signs of drug abuse having taken place.
“We welcome people’s vigilance about this and will keep doing all we can,” Mr Cadger said.
Project 6 worker Ellie McNeil said they closely monitor people’s returns of needles, and the gentle incentive of a free chocolate bar for every full bin is proving a success.
A Bradford Council spokesman said its staff did everything possible to keep roads and streets clear of dangerous debris.
“Cleansing staff on their rounds will seek to pick up everything that should not be on the street, which includes needles,” he said.
“Where a needle report comes in, it is treated as an emergency. During daytime hours, the case is passed to the nearest clean-team. Out of hours, it is passed to the highways standby operative “The council operates a needle exchange and has needle bins installed in key places to promote safe disposal.”