No in­creas­ing drug prob­lem, says coun­cil­lor

The Oban Times - - NEWS - By David McPhee dm­[email protected]­times.co.uk

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

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