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Case Studies

Legal high needles

More than 400 needles were taken off Taunton’s streets in a ‘community day of action’ to reduce the impact of legal high abuse in the Somerset county town. Avon and Somerset police also arranged for uniformed and plain-clothed patrols of Taunton on Saturday to target people and places known to be associated with legal high abuse. Three people were issued with “dispersal orders” on Saturday to prevent further anti-social behaviour as a result, keeping them out of the town centre for 24 hours or facing arrest.

The community activity started in Victoria Park, with more than a dozen uniformed personnel, Police Cadets, 20 volunteers from anti-legal high campaign group SWAG, councillors and staff from Taunton Deane Borough Council, six drug clean-up specialists from Taunton Association for the Homeless and nine offenders doing unpaid community payback work. They found:

•Rear of Vivary Park – 300 needles

•Victoria Park – 43

•Canon Street Car Park – 15

•Goodlands Gardens to French Weir – 43

•Residential areas around Victoria Park – 19

•Various other Taunton locations – 21

Taunton Town Centre beat manager PC Jim Breakwell said: “We’ve noticed over the last year that legal highs are being openly injected by abusers in public places, while Class A drug users will generally not do it because of the risk of arrest, which explains why we have seen an increase in the number of needles found in parks and toilets.

“It was a fantastically well supported weekend of action. The number of needles recovered shows that Taunton still experiences a legal high problem but we demonstrated there is a determination to overcome it. Although we were looking for used needles and drug paraphernalia there was a smile on everyone’s face while we were doing the work in some very unpleasant weather.

“I was quite surprised at how many needles we found, but the majority of them were in an area not particularly accessible to the public, right at the back of Vivary Park – but that is still a very large and unwelcome number.”


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