A FAMILY is anxiously awaiting the results of hospital tests after a six-year-old girl accidentally pricked herself with a needle at a popular Taunton park.
Nick Smith told the County Gazette of his horror after his daughter Millie-Mae was taken to hospital after picking up a used needle in the public toilets in Victoria Park and pricked her leg with it.
He has now set up a Facebook group which aims to highlight the problem of drug users injecting themselves in public places in the Taunton area, and more than 1,100 people have joined it already.
Police say they are aware of the problem and are increasing patrols of hotspot areas – and county councillors are exploring the possibility of a local ban on legal highs.
Millie-Mae was taken to Musgrove Park Hospital on Friday evening and given preventative injections. Doctors also carried out tests to identify any contamination and say it will take three months for the results to come back.
Nick said: “We were very traumatised.
“We want something to be done and I have got a group with more than 1,000 local people on Facebook who all say there is a massive problem with drug users injecting themselves in open public spaces in Taunton Deane.
“The police should be putting more effort into catching the drug dealers in the area because they are the real criminals.
“From what I've heard from other people and also the police, it's the people who are mixing legal highs with methadone that are causing the main problem.”
Methadone is a drug prescribed by doctors to addicts as a substitute for heroin.
Somerset county councillor Simon Coles, whose ward covers the Victoria Park area, met angry residents this week.
He said: “This is not a new problem but it is one that needs to be dealt with.
“Local authorities can make and change bylaws and we are looking into this as one option but we are looking at all the options to deal with this problem.
“The trouble we have is that makers of a legal high only need to change one ingredient to make it a different but essentially the same substance – that makes them very hard to control.”
Police say they will be increasing patrols of public toilets known for being hotspots for discarded needles and other items linked to drug use.
PC Jim Breakwell said: “We know there is a lot of concern about used needles, particularly from people with young children who might pick them up out of curiosity, and we are working to tackle the issue.
“Not only does drug litter put us at risk, it spoils our community spaces and affects how safe people feel in their neighbourhood.
“This isn’t a problem that one agency alone can tackle – we need to work together to improve the situation.
“We’re working closely with the council on this but the community can play their part by reporting used needles as they are spotted.”