North East Wales

Wrexham town centre drug users create 'no-go areas'

Land at Capel-y-Groes Image copyright Wrexham council
Image caption The "sheer size of the problem" at" encampments" like Capel-y-Groes make cleaning hard, said the report

Drug-use has left some parts of Wrexham "no-go areas" with 200 discarded needles found in a cemetery in one day, a report said.

In 2015/16, more than 250,000 syringes were given out to drug users in the area - 27% of the total across north Wales.

A report was commissioned last November after concerns from residents that discarded needles blighted the area.

Wrexham councillors discussed its findings on Thursday.

A group looking into the issue was chaired by Councillor Carole O'Toole, who said needles could cause injury, stop children using public spaces and affect the perception of crime and community safety.

There were also concerns it was also undermining attempts to attract visitors to the town and creating "no-go areas" for residents.

Wrexham Streetscene - which cleans public-owned land - said the problem has "grown considerably in recent months", with a number of areas highlighted as "hotspots".

Image copyright Wrexham council

In the report, a resident described the scene of "filth" at Rhos Cemetery, saying this could cause "major harm" to children playing there.

"Innocent people need to be protected", they said.

"I could have picked up 200 needles in two minutes and then there are used condoms and human faeces that go with it."

Another resident said they find up to 40 discarded needles every day on Holt Road.

"I have heard some say that Wrexham hasn't got a problem but I think they are walking around with their eyes closed," they added.

Council-owned land adjacent to Capel-y-Groes in the town centre was also highlighted as becoming an "encampment" for homeless and substance, drug and alcohol mis-users in August.

With some suffering from mental health issues and "complex problems" surrounding them, the report said simply moving the people on is not easy.

"(Things) can spiral out of control rapidly and create a hugely challenging situation which is quickly overwhelming to all those trying to deal with it," the report said.

It added: "In the worst affected areas, people in our communities, especially the most vulnerable like the elderly, young families, feel intimidated and harassed by the people causing the problems.

"And it is not just at night - it's in the middle of the day."

Of the 945,664 needles and syringes issued by community pharmacies and other outlets in 2015/16 to people in the six north Wales authorities, 26.9% (254,453) were distributed in Wrexham.

The report lists recommendations for addressing the issue, that include reporting, dealing with and cleaning up drug litter and working with Betsi Cadwaldr University Health Board to recognise and tackle the specific issue in Wrexham.

A legal order giving police and council officials powers to disperse anyone causing a nuisance such as taking drugs in Wrexham town centre came into force in August.

More on this story