“I found one cache of 30 needles” – are discarded needles a problem in Bedford?

Needles - Black Tom
One of the needles found in Bedford Park

A video of a Bedford Borough Council worker finding discarded drug needles in a public area, easily accessible by children, is highlighting what many feel is a growing problem in the town.

The video was filmed in mid-January after the council worker found several needles in the grounds of Rose Court on Beckett Street, in the Greyfriars area of Bedford town centre.

In the video the frustrated council worker can be heard reacting angrily at finding the discarded needles in the broad daylight asking: “How many times today have I come across s*** like this?”

At least five needles are visible, having been left on a low wall by the pavement which is easily accessible to children and pets.

The council worker has since been ordered to take the video down, with Bedford Borough Council claiming this was due to the language used while filming.

A spokesperson said: “Whilst this officer was behaving in a conscientious manner in clearing away drug paraphernalia, Bedford Borough Council cannot endorse the use of swearing on social media by its employees.”

Meanwhile, a resident living near Bedford Park has taken it upon himself to clear up needles discarded around the park and nearby public areas.

Mark Love posted images in the Black Tom (Prime Ministers), Bedford Residents Facebook group of needles he had cleared up and found along walkways used by families, dog walkers and runners.

He also shared a map highlighting where he found a variety of drug paraphernalia, saying: “I found one cache of about 30 unused needles by the tennis courts.

“The cricket pavilion is often littered with glycine baggies, and there is evidence of glue sniffing in the graveyard, and widespread alcohol abuse.”

Bedford Park discarded needle map
Bedfordian Mark Love has created a map highlighting where he has found drug paraphernalia in Bedford Park.

Mark now believes Bedford Borough Council need to position needle boxes in various places, or provide a safe place for drug users to ‘shoot-up’.

But this suggestion has caused controversy with other residents saying this will just attract more drug users to the area: “The reaction I’ve had so far is that having a secure bin might either ‘be dangerous’ or ‘encourage drug use,'” adds Mark.

“But I’m pretty sure that having sharps roughly the size of a pine needle just dumped willy nilly must be more dangerous.

“It would seem to me that a safe place to shoot up might help.”

A Borough Council spokesperson said: “The Council responds to reports of discarded needles as a matter of urgency, dispatching the appropriate officers with the necessary equipment to remove them safely and quickly.

“Increasing numbers of needles being discarded is a national issue, with figures obtained by the BBC showing that councils handled over 18,400 cases in 2017-18.

“The Council is working closely with the Police and other partners and agencies locally to tackle this dangerous and antisocial behaviour.”

Discarded needles can be reported to the Council by calling the Environmental Services help desk at 01234 718060 and it will be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Cll Colleen Atkins MBE, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Regulatory Services, has also commented on the issues.

Writing in the Black Tom (Prime Ministers), Bedford Residents Facebook group, she said: “For the past few months I have been working with the local policing team, the council, Neighbourhood Watch and The Pavilion cafe to set up a Bedford Park Watch.

“We have a meeting next week to agree exactly how it will work, what to report and who to report to. This won’t be just about crime issues but about the care of the (Bedford) park too. We are provisionally looking to launch it next month.”

The Bedford Independent have been invited to the meeting and will be writing a report on the discussions.