AT LEAST 1,200 needles have been thrown on to Brighton and Hove’s streets, parks and public facilities over four years, new figures reveal.

Areas most likely to be popular needle dumping grounds are alleyways, car parks, parkland and public toilets.

Anywhere in fact which offers shelter from witnesses and the elements as well as offering access to water needed for injection.

The situation was so severe in Hanover Crescent, where more than 20 have been discarded over the four years including 16 in eight months last year, that residents tried to get permission for gates at either end of the street to stop drug users entering their street.

The dangers of infection from hypodermic needles are very real and potentially very serious.

Infections used needles can pass include hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV while there is also a small risk of herpes-like viruses cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr virus being transmitted.

In September 2014 Belle Graham was out weeding her garden in St John’s Place, Brighton, when a discarded hypodermic needle pierced her gardening glove.

Since then the 37-year-old mother-of-two has had more problems.

She said: “One night I forgot to padlock my gate and when I woke up the next morning I found about five needles in my garden.

“I think the man who used to live here was a drug dealer so that is maybe why they thought to come here but who knows what goes through their drug addled mind.

“I make sure I always put my padlock on now.”

The problem has led some to suggest a radical alternative to reduce the risk to both drug users and the public at large by allowing addicts to inject in a controlled and supervised environment known as “shooting galleries”.

The proposal was explored for Brighton and Hove by specially-created commission in 2014 but ruled out then because it was considered the timing was not right despite the benefits for addicts.

Calls for them to be introduced resumed when Glasgow announced last year it would seek to be the first city in the UK to allow injecting of medical grade heroin under supervision in clinical premises.

The approach is backed by MP Caroline Lucas but opposed by Sussex Police and Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne.

Ms Lucas said: “It’s really worrying that the number of discarded needles on our streets and in our parks is rising, and I know parents of young children will be especially concerned.

“I’ve long argued that we should be finding ways to reduce drug related harms, and safe spaces for users would also go some way towards better protecting members of the public from needles too.”

In the business case for safe consumption rooms in Glasgow, health experts said safer injecting facilities have existed since the mid-1980s with more than 90 currently worldwide.

Health bosses said benefits included an improvement in city centre public spaces and a lessening of the impact on communities and businesses with fewer discarded drug related litter, less visible public injecting and a reduction in drug related criminal activity, public disorder and anti-social behaviour. More than 100 scientific papers evaluating the impact of shooting galleries show safer injecting facilities lead to a reduction in public injecting, discarded needles and sharing of needles while improving the addicts’ uptake of care and treatment.

Studies also show shooting galleries do not increase rates of crime and lead to financial savings because of reduced ill-health and reliance on health care services among users.

In Glasgow, it is estimated between 400 and 500 people may be injecting drugs in public places in the city centre on a regular basis but Brighton and Hove’s injecting population is estimated to be four times that.

Shooting galleries have been backed by Ms Graham who said: “I think it would be a good idea. I actually feel sorry for them, There needs to be more help for them.”

A Brighton and Hove City Councils spokeswoman said the large increase in needles was down to officers recording drug litter much more robustly than previously.

The authority said to target needle dropping hotspots, all drug litter reports to the community safety team are passed on to City Clean immediately for them to respond to.

She added: “Any resident reporting drug litter is encouraged to report direct to City Clean. The City Clean response time for hazardous waste is within one hour.”

At February’s budget meeting it was proposed to cut £92,000 from the community safety team.

Officials warned that by stopping communities against drugs work, there was a risk that drug use and litter would increase.

Anyone finding needles should report it to the council’s environment contact centre on 01273 292929.


A Freedom of Inquest request by this paper to Brighton and Hove City Council requesting the number of discarded syringes picked up council staff has revealed:

In 2013 – 112 reports of discarded needles

2014 – 264 reports

2015 – 418 reports

2016 - 404 reports

The authority said it had no details of any instances where staff required medical tests or treatment after handling discarded needles.

Among the better-known streets where needles have been found between 2013-2016 are:

Ditchling Road – 13 needles

Dorset Gardens – 15

Dyke Road – 5

Eastern Road – 6

Edward Street – 6

Hanover Crescent – 22

Ivory Place – 12

Jew Street – 5

King Place – 10

King’s Road – 3

Kingsway – 10

Lewes Road – 9

London Road – 32

Madeira Drive – 13

Marine Parade – 10

Morley Street – 28

New England Street – 6

New Road – 6

Norfolk Square – 1

North Street – 2

Old Steine – 15

Oxford Street – 8

Queen’s Park Road – 5

Queen’s Road – 15

Saunders Park Rise – 4

Ship Street – 6

St James’s Street – 11

The Level – 6

Western Road – 12

List of locations where discarded syringes have been found.pdf