Work taking place to improve needle exchange after rise in discarded drug paraphernalia found in Hartlepool

A syringe found on the streets.
A syringe found on the streets.

Councillors have called for more work to go into its needle exchange initiative after an increase in discarded drug paraphernalia.

Hartlepool Borough Council has run a ‘needle exchange’ for a number of years looking to help reduce the number of used needles and drug paraphernalia found in community spaces.

However a recent needs assessment found the programme should be broadened into a ‘harm minimisation service’ to meet the needs of people and offer more guidance and awareness.

A report found there has been a noticeable increase in discarded drug paraphernalia in the area over the last two years.

Coun Marjorie James called for needles to have to be returned in exchange for clean replacements in a bid to ensure they are disposed of properly.

She said: “It’s not an exchange.

“There is no requirement for users to bring back used needles, there should be something in the contract for them to return the hypodermic needles.

“An exchange indicates they have to bring something back to recieve the clean needles.

“There has to be something that makes them return the dirty needles after they have used them.”

Sharon Robson, health improvement practitioner at the council, said they are looking into improving the service and are considering ideas.

She said currently a clean needle pack contains a small box to return used needles but it is not a requirement it is used.

She said: “They are available but we know not everyone is using them.

“We are never going to refuse someone clean needles that needs them, that’s not what we want to do.

“There could be something where the number of clean needles someone could get could depend on the return of used needles.

“Again there is a lot of work to do in this area and that’s where we’re working out what to do.”

Councillors backed the importance of a needle exchange and said work needs to be done to raise awareness of it to residents.

Coun Rob Cook said: “We are approaching it in the right manner, it’s down to education.

“But educating drug takers is very difficult, they get set in their ways.

“It’s quite right people should not pick up needles, if they see any they need to get it reported.

“It’s down to education, education in schools is paramount, and as an authority we have to do our best to solve the problem.”

Coun John Tennant said: “One of the things that came up a lot during elections was the number of needles found.

“One of the major problems is there is not enough information on who to contact.

“It needs to be readily available to get that message across of what to do.”

Hartlepool Borough Council provides a 24-hour drug litter service and endeavours to remove any drug related litter within 2-hours.

Reports can be made online via www.hartlepool.gov.uk or by contacting 01429 523333.

Nic Marko, Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service