A Wigan grandmother has collected dozens of dirty needles after discovering them on a family walk.
Lizzie Hagan today told the Wigan Post of her horror at finding a public clearing littered with used hypodermics as she walked with her two grandchildren, aged five and eight, and her dog through Parsons Meadow, Poolstock.
In a wooded area at the side of a dirt track, the 57-year-old came across a drugs haven comprising spoons, needles and other paraphernalia which had been strewn across the ground.
Lizzie, who lives in Tipping Street, Worsley Mesnes, said: “I spotted a needle.
“At first I didn’t say anything but I saw another and stopped the children and told them to stay still. As I looked around I just couldn’t believe it.
“I said to the children ‘I’m going to pick these up.’ I explained what they were and told them never ever to touch them.
“I was gobsmacked there were just so many there. I couldn’t walk away knowing I hadn’t done anything. A kid could have fallen on one or a dog could have stood on one.”
Using dog waste bags, Lizzie carefully removed the capped needles from the ground and called the police to report the incident before destroying the equipment in a garden chiminea.
Concerned that she would be unable to describe the area to the cleaning team and that the syringes would remain unfound, she felt she was left with no other choice.
Wigan Council, which has a specialised “cleansing team”, attends to reports of dumped syringes every week in the borough.
Prof Kate Ardern, the authority’s director of public health, said: “This kind of behaviour in leaving syringes around in public is irresponsible and incredibly dangerous.
“There are a number of needle exchanges across Wigan borough where needles can be used and disposed of safely, not only helping to reduce the risk of catching diseases for the user but also reducing the risk to the wider public should they find used needles too.”
Council teams aim to pick them up the same day they are reported, using pickers to pick the syringes up and put them in a sharps container which is sealed.
They also have special gloves which prevent any needle stick injuries.
Among the most dangerous of infections that can be contracted from a drug-user’s needle scratch are HIV and hepatitis.
After the incident, Lizzie returned to the meadow, where she walks with her dog daily, to find another seven used syringes on the ground.
She said: “It’s clearly a problem that isn’t going to go away. There are needle wrappers all over. I was more shocked at so many so soon, in a matter of days.
“I do feel we need to educate people more and more so we can just stop at least one child from touching these type of things.”
Residents can seek help with alcohol and drug problems from the Wigan and Leigh Recovery Partnership on 01942 487578 for people aged 18 and above or the Young People’s Drug & Alcohol Service on 01942 865591.
People are being advised to report any used needles to the council via MyAccount online or the Report It app.