No increasing drug problem, says councillor
Argyll and Bute Council’s policy lead for health and social care does not believe there is an increasing drug problem in Oban.
This comes after a Freedom of Information (FOI) revealed a rise in clients using a needle exchange programme locally.
The request was carried out after construction workers found bags of used needles on a building site in the town.
Figures showed the number of clients using the needle exchange programme rose to 21 this August, up from 17 during the same period last year. In August 2015, there were 16 clients and 12 in 2014.
The figures do not mean that 21 different people used the service, as someone who is not registered is counted every time they attend, while a registered person is only counted once, regardless of how often they use it.
Oban councillor Kieron Green said: ‘The numbers are relatively small. I have not got the perception that there is an increasing drugs problem in the town.’
Mr Green said that when police reports include drug-related arrests at Oban Community Council’s monthly meeting, he asks if it is a growing problem.
‘Their general feedback is they have regular operations supported by intelligence. They will get people occasionally for dealing or possession.’
When asked about having a study of users in Oban, he added: ‘When you are running a service like a needle exchange, the priority is to make sure people have access to needles.
‘I don’t know how feasible it is to have a study of how many people are taking drugs. We would have to be pretty intrusive and it would be a massive amount of work, and I don’t think you could guarantee to be successful. There are always going to be some people who fall through the cracks.’
A spokesperson for Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership added: ‘We provide a range of support mechanisms in Oban, and Argyll and Bute generally, for people who use drugs.
‘These include harm reduction nurses, needle exchange services and opioid substitution therapy such as the prescription of methadone.’
Anyone who finds a discarded syringe or needle in a public place should not pick it up but should alert Argyll and Bute Council’s roads and amenities department on 01546 605522.
People worried about their own or someone else’s drug use can get help at argyllandbuteadp.info