Injecting Advice Articles By:
Dr Stephen Parkin
There are 8 articles by this writer
The latter half of 2016 saw increased interest and positive development with regard to the introduction of Safer Injecting Facilities (SIF) in both Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. Whether or not this interest proves to be yet another false policy promise in the progress of UK harm reduction remains to be seen. However, during this period of potential development, I couldn’t help but notice that advocates of SIF stated that such facilities would aim to reduce local levels of ‘public injecting’ and assist with ‘removing drug-use from the street’.
The following ‘harm reduction response’ has been inspired by UnitingCare ReGen’s proactive response to negative media reports of needles/syringes in community settings. This ‘letter’ provides a template for similar action by relevant bodies based in the UK (harm reduction agencies, drug and alcohol workers, drug users).
Over the last 6-7 years, in my role as a university-based researcher, I have been given privileged access to a number of Needle and Syringe Programmes (NSP) throughout England. Throughout this time, a large number of organisations and individuals have assisted me in carrying out research concerning injecting drug use that takes place in public settings (such as toilets, car parks, green areas, derelict property etc).
In June 2010 I wrote an article for Injecting Advice concerning fluorescent blue lights (and related harm) in public toilets. That previous article coincided with the publication of an academic paper in the journal Health and Place and both summarised research (from the city of Plymouth, UK) that considered the injecting practices of drug users who had previously accessed toilets lit with blue lights.
Urban environments provide numerous concealed settings that may be used on a regular and frequent basis for the injection of illicit drugs. In addition to general public amenity (car parks, stairwells, toilets) these places may include derelict buildings, marginal wasteland and squats. Each of these latter examples may be typically used and frequented almost exclusively by injecting drug users who may consider such places as providing temporary safety and sufficient privacy to administer drugs without detection/interruption…
As with the discarding of any litter, drug related litter is undoubtedly unsightly, unpleasant, anti-social and a potential hazard to public health (including those involved in clearance, community residents and also individual drug users). However, unlike most other forms of littering, DRL has provoked a number of local, regional and national responses that each aim to minimise needlestick injury (to non-drug users), promote safer communities and encourage appropriate discarding practice by IDU.