THE number of used needles found in the St Luke’s area has decreased dramatically since needle bins were introduced for drug users.
HSE Coordinator of Drug and Alcohol Services, David Lane, said prior to the implementation of the biohazard bin on the steps between Charlemont Terrace and Wellington Road, the HSE had recovered as many as 77 used needles per month in the area. However, in the period following the installation of the bin, no needles were found for a number of months.
Mr Lane said it was clear evidence that the initiative was working despite some concerns in the community.
The HSE coordinator also emphasised that the people using the needle bin were largely local to the area and it was not a case of the bins attracting drug users. Mr Lane insisted the bins were strategically placed in an area where drug paraphernalia was already being found. Residents at the Community Safety Forum meeting, which was held at the Ambassador Hotel last night, said the bins have helped protect children who use the steps from getting pricked by a used needle.
However, councillor Joe Kavanagh objected to the bins, saying they sent out the wrong message to young people, and the bins would be better suited to another location. Mr Lane claimed that removing the bin would not remove the problem and the scheme was introduced after looking at other parts of the world, such as across Europe and in Australia, in order to see what works.
“The bins are not permanent, they are well-managed, well-supervised and they are emptied regularly. If the area quietens, then the bins will be moved.”
Superintendent Mick Comyns said the vast majority of drug users who frequented the pathway between Charlemont Terrace and Wellington Road, were locals. He appealed to the members of the public to work with them to catch the dealers who were servicing these users.
“A prison sentence is not the solution for addicts,” Supt Comyns said, “ They need counselling and addiction services.
“You have seen us going into houses and flats along Charlemont Terrace and carrying out raids in order to catch dealers. It is not easy, but the more information we have, the more chance we have.”