A CONCERNED father was inches away from standing on what believes was a drug user’s needle as he walked along a Northumberland beach.
Allan England picked up the hypodermic needle to dispose of it responsibly and to stop others from getting injured.
He has now contacted Northumberland County Council to suggest it places bins for sharp objects along Blyth Coastline after he had to drive to Seaton Sluice to hand it over to a chemist to get rid of it properly.
Mr England, 40, of Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, said: “On Wednesday I was walking barefoot when I spotted the hypodermic needle. My foot was only inches away from it and it was near the ramp where people leave the beach, not in some far-flung corner.
“I could have easily stood on it. If that had happened I could have got Aids or Hepatitis B. And, from what I’ve heard, it’s awful having to wait months after the tests to see if you’ve got it.”
Mr England, who is an area manager for Shell, added: “If you notice in the distance in my picture, just to the left of my hand, there is a family with a toddler. She could easily have fallen on it. She was chasing seagulls, it’s frightening to think what could have happened.
“I go there regularly with my wife, Toni, and sons, Ethan and Max, but I will think twice about it now.”
Allan contacted Northumberland County Council asking for bins for sharp objects to be placed along the coastline.
Arthur Cranson, coastal warden for Northumberland County Council, said: “We find very few needles on the beach and foreshore. The ones we do find have usually either come from a ship, or have been flushed into the sewerage system and are more likely to be a diabetic’s needle.
“All the coastal wardens carry a sharps kit and are needle-stick trained, so we dispose of them very quickly and safely. Anybody finding a needle should contact our call centre on 0845 600 6400 and it will be dealt with quickly.”
This weekend is national Beach Watch Weekend and there will be a litter survey and clean up today on Blyth Beach between 10am and noon. The litter will be analysed and the results sent to the Marine Conservation Society so they can monitor where beach litter is coming from.
Blyth Valley MP Ronnie Campbell said: “I have heard rumours that drugs are back on the increase in the Blyth area but I’ve got no concrete evidence.
“When drugs were at their worst in the 90s, I fought for a needle exchange scheme where people brought back their old needle to be replaced with a new one. It was terrible back then when you would find needles in bushes, in gutters, all over the place. This is only one needle, but it is still disturbing that it has been found on the beach where someone could stand on it.”
Sharon Baines, from the Drug and Alcohol Action Team in Cramlington, said: “From our research there is no prevalent higher drug or alcohol misuse in the area compared to the past, but we have found a higher intake of people using support facilities. However, we would expect that as there are more provisions and therefore there will be more people using them.”