Parent upset by dirty needles

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 12:58 02/09/2014

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Thirty children from Auckland Point School narrowly avoided walking through a cache of dirty needles.

Parent Grant Joyce said he was with his two daughters, aged 7 and 8, when their class went across the road to plant trees near the Trafalgar Centre yesterday.

He said he stumbled upon several broken and dirty needles and a spoon covered in unidentified residue when he went ahead to ask contractors to let the children pass through a cordoned-off area near the skate park.

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He and Faye Wulff from the nearby Nelson Community Art Centre removed the items before the children approached, but he was left full of worries about what could have happened if an adult had not found the drug paraphernalia first.

"It was lucky one of the kids didn't pick [a needle] up and say, ‘What's this?' and spike themselves."

Acting principal Rachel Couling said the last thing the school wanted was for a child to come into contact with a needle, and the school had worked hard to keep drug users and their paraphernalia out of its grounds.

Donna Steel from the Niche Trust needle exchange said news of the incident made her feel sad and angry: "It's highly disgusting and highly disappointing."

She said the exchange had a close relationship with the Nelson City Council and Nelmac as their staff were usually on the "front line" in finding needles that had been disposed of in an unsafe manner.

Despite this precaution, Steel said, these incidents were minimal.

"We're talking several thousand [needles] on a monthly basis that come through our doors, and it's not just [drugs], it's piercers and tattooists too."

The exchange in Collingwood St has a drop box outside where people can return items 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Steel said she would remind her clients that leaving used needles out in public was unacceptable, and also planned to send out a flyer.

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- The Nelson Mail

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