Drug litter usually refers to discarded needles, syringes and sharps. It can also include other items that people throw away as a result of carrying or taking drugs. This type of litter is less common than items relating to eating and drinking but is found in certain secluded areas in and around city centres and parks.
Discarded syringes in particular can be very dangerous as they can transmit blood-borne infections such as Hepatitis B & C and HIV. These viruses can then be passed on if somebody else is injured by the needle. Welsh and UK Government strategies focused on targeting and promoting Needle Exchange Services have lessened infection spread although some risk persists. The risk of an injury doesn’t only come from needles which are discarded in the outdoor environment. Injuries can also happen if loose needles are put in street litter bins or left when homes are cleared.
As with any other form of litter, prevention is key. Partnership working with local authorities, needle exchange programmes, substance misuse charities and services and town planners are key to the strategic reduction in the use of needles and their safe disposal.
By law, local authorities and other landowners must keep their land clear of litter. If someone reports drug-related litter, it is recommended that they respond within three hours.
If you find drug-related litter in a public space, please do not put yourself or anybody else at risk. To make sure it gets cleaned up, please report it to the relevant local authority, which you can find here. If you find the litter in north Wales, please report it through the drug litter line or freephone number (0808 808 2276).
If you are injured by a used needle, please follow this advice from the National Health Service.