Police act over syringe found near playgroup2003-05-22
A playgroup leader is calling for improved policing after a hypodermic needle containing what appeared to be blood was found outside a nursery.
Caroline Matthews found a used syringe outside the Trehafren estate's community hall in Newtown, Powys, during a playgroup session attended by 24 nursery school children.
A second needle was discovered by another resident on Tuesday, lying nearby in the grass near a bus shelter on the 400-house estate
However, police say they have stepped up patrols in the area during the last two weeks to try to stamp out anti-social behaviour.
Both I and other parents who attend the group were shocked and horrified to find the syringe
Caroline Matthews, playgroup leader
Both needles contained a liquid that appeared to be blood, a spokesman said. It was still undecided whether the needles would be tested.
Mrs Matthews wants more police patrols on the estate and more information for needle users.
"I found the needle just outside the door of the playgroup where the children meet," she said.
"Both I and other parents who attend the group were shocked and horrified to find the syringe."
Mrs Matthews, who has three children herself, said syringe-users should be told where needle exchanges are available locally.
"The problem is so bad I believe children should be told what to do if they come across these needles as well as informing users about how to dispose of them," she said.
Mrs Matthews also called for the police to show a higher profile on the estate.
Newtown has several needle exchanges for syringe users
"I know the police have an office on the estate but they need to be around more often although I realise they are limited to how often they can be here."
Inspector Gareth Davies of Newtown division said that police patrols at Trehafren had been stepped over the last two weeks.
He added: "The reason we have done this is to combat anti-social behaviour by individuals.
"These individuals and their parents have been sent warning letters about behaviour.
"Patrols will be maintained to target those who cause problems to the Trehafren community."
Pc Gareth Slaymaker, Newtown division's community safety officer, said: "Whether we like it or not there are people living in our town that use hypodermic needles for one reason or another.
"But I am totally disgusted with the fact that someone has been irresponsible enough to leave them lying around instead of getting rid of them in a secure manner.
"These people have shown a total disregard to the safety of other people living and visiting the estate.
"People's lives - especially children playing on the estate - are being put at risk by these individuals.
Wendy Prendergast of Powys Drugs and Alcohol Centre said there were several needle exchanges in Newtown.
She added that she was concerned about the spread of "moral panic" caused by the discovery of the needles.
"My concern is as soon as syringes are found it looks as if there is a huge drug problem," said Mrs Prendergast.
"It is automatically assumed that the needles are involved in illicit drug use but diabetics use them as well."
However, the drugs centre will now increase its outreach work on the Trehafren estate, she said.