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Tackling drug related litter – Guidance and good practice

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1 Tackling drug related litter – Guidance and good practice
Andrew Osborne Local Environmental Quality Team Introduce myself – work in defra’s LEQ team Today I am here to want to talk to you about Defra’s new guidance document - “Tackling drug related litter – guidance and good practice”, published today. Before I do that can I introduce, Stuart Henshaw from the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, and Selby District Council, who is going to set the guidance in context and explaining why the CIWM wanted to see such guidance produced by the Government. Thank Stuart…. To start I will give some of the background – where this document has come from before talking more specifically about the guidance itself – to give you an overview of what it is. I should be clear from the outset that this document is “Guidance” – no more no less. The extent that you use it is up to you – all I can do is commend it to you. But before I go any further I should say that the development of this guidance document was led by Dr Mike Rich, who left Defra in July. I have come in at the end of the process…..

2 Tackling drug related litter - history
Looking at the issue since 2003 Department of Health, Home Office, ODPM, Encams, CIWM, etc The need for guidance Involvement of key players A potted history for you. Since autumn 2003, Defra has been working to tackle drug related litter (discarded needles, syringes and other paraphernalia). To do this it has worked alongside the Department of Health, Home Office, ODPM and ENCAMS, the organisation that runs the tidy Britain campaign, to examine ways in which drug litter can be managed and reduced. Early on in this process practitioners made it clear that there was a need for clear Government guidance as until today, there there was no such guidance available to tackle this form of litter. The guidance has now been completed. The guidance has been developed in close liaison with the Home Office, ODPM and Department of Health, as well as the National Treatment Agency and Chartered Institution of Waste Management. It has also drawn on pilot work in the South West, coordinated by ENCAMS. A number of practitioners have also been key and contributed in a number of ways including commenting on drafts and providing examples of current best practice – (Including Dominic Blackburn a drugs officer from the Blackpool Community Safety and Drugs Partnership – who is here in the room tonight).

3 Tackling drug related litter – why?
Drug related litter doesn’t affect all communities Where it is found – impacts are stark Livability Perceived risk higher than the actual risk I will run through some facts and figures on DRL in a minute, but I think it is worth a few words on why Government has seen fit to produce this Guidance Firstly, Drugs related litter doesn’t affect all of our communities – an obvious point, yet one worth remembering – as we do not want to be seen to be scare mongering. However, in the communities where it is found the impacts can be stark – it can generate fear, anger, disgust and frustration – this despite the risks of contracting a blood borne disease, as you know, being very, very small. DRL can and does affect the “livability of an area” – it affects how people feel about their communities and how they feel about where they live. It is more often found in communities where social exclusion is already acute. And DRL, along with a range of other factors, can hamper efforts to rebuild these communities – therefore a co-ordinated approach is required to tackle these issues. Going back to the risks associated with DRL - We are not aware of a member of the public contracting a blood borne disease from a discarded needle of syringe. However, out there in the community the perception of risk from this form of litter is high.

4 Tackling drug related litter – facts and figures
97% of local authorities were aware of discarded needles having been reported or found in the previous three years Over a quarter of authorities found in excess of 100 needles in 2001 (27%), in comparison to almost a third in 2002 (31%) and 2003 (30%) Overall, discarded needles were most commonly found in parks and playing fields (83%), residential areas (77%) and public toilets (72%) As I have said, early on in the process the need for specific guidance was identified, but why? Some figures for you….. The scale of the problem is shown by a survey carried out by Encams in 2004/05 (this survey followed two earlier surveys they had conducted on the issue). This found that: 97% of local authorities were aware of discarded needles having been reported or found in the previous three years; Over a quarter of authorities found in excess of 100 needles in 2001 (27%), in comparison to almost a third in 2002 (31%) and 2003 (30%); We suspect that the reported numbers are a lot lower than the actually are – in that many authorities do not have the systems in place to measure needle finds. That said, overall, discarded needles were most commonly found in parks and playing fields (83%), residential areas (77%) and public toilets (72%);

5 Tackling drug related litter – facts and figures
Two-fifths of local authorities were aware of needlestick injuries since 2001 (40%) A total of 169 injuries were recorded in the three years prior to the 2004 survey The 2004 study found that the majority of people injured by discarded needles were local authority employees LEQSE less than 1% of sites affected by DRL Two-fifths of local authorities were aware of needlestick injuries since 2001 (40%); A total of 169 injuries were recorded in the three years prior to the 2004 survey; and As in the previous two studies, the 2004 study found that the majority of people injured by discarded needles were local authority employees. However, the incidence of drug related litter isn’t widespread in the general environment – Encams survey The “Local Environmental Quality Survey of England 2003/2004”, produced for Defra….. Showed that drug related litter was found at less than 1% of survey sites – however it should be born in mind that this survey is of predominantly of public places and as a result it probably under reports

6 Tackling drug related litter – the Guidance
Part one – context and legislation Part two – managing the issue (the 14 recommendations) The role of partnership Audience Not compulsory Turning to the guidance itself – now want to spend some time covering, in a bit more detail, what is contained in the guidance. In essence it is a document of two parts – the first that puts the issue in its wider context and provides guidance on current legislation, research and advice of relevance. Part two focuses on the steps that can be taken to better manage and reduce the problem itself – summaried in 14 headline recommendations - the outcome of a cross government working group, comments and consultations with stakeholders and advice and discussion with experts and practitioners, both in the UK and abroad. The key message, throughout the document that I will emphasis, here and again, is the need for partnership working – it highlights the need to work across agencies and departments in order to provide the most effective response. Who has it been written for? – It is intended for all those who deal with drug related litter as part of their work and those that can contribute to its reduction. Many will be a part of or close to a LA – street cleansing managers and operatives, park staff, wardens, car park inspectors, housing caretakers, etc. But the guidance isn’t restricted to Las – it is important that a wide range of agencies work together at the local level. Therefore the Guidance is also for those working in housing organisations, hostels, care centres, the police, needle exchange scheme staff, CDRPs, DATs, etc. As I have said, it is not compulsory – it is there to provide a sourse of information to assist with addressing the problem of DRL where it is found in our communities. The Guidance doesn’t pretend to give all of the answers, nor will its advice suit every circumstance – it should be taken on board within the local context and used, where appropriate, to suit local needs. It is also a source of researched and referenced information and material – that can provide the reader with a wealth of related information. I want to now spend the rest of my time giving a brief overview of the recommendations to give you a better flavour of the document. I should point out that the recommendations that I am going to talk about are just the headline recommendations.

7 Tackling drug related litter - Recommendations
When setting up a new service to respond to DRL (or reviewing an existing service), evaluate the need for provision on sex related litter and consider a combined service, where this need exists Recommendation one…… The reality is that the problems of drug litter can often occur together with those of sex related litter – the two are often linked The two issues share many of the same risk factors and as a result some of the drug litter services cited in the Guidance, notably Camden and Bristol have chosen to provide a joint response to both types of litter. There is no getting away from it – at the end of the day a used condom or a syringe are both fundamentally different type of litter to what one might normally define as litter – namely a can or sweet wrapper – and as a result it requires a different approach to see that it is managed effectively on our streets.

8 Tackling drug related litter – Recommendations
Establish an agreement or protocol between the Police and local agencies regarding the possession of used needles and drug paraphernalia The second recommendation… Why, those returning needles, might be fearful of being caught with illegal drugs as trace amounts might still be present in a used syringe. To this end Greater Manchester Police has a Needle Exchange Scheme Policy, issued by the Chief Constable, which reads…. “Unless there are other attendant circumstances, officers will not arrest a person who is attending a needle exchange scheme, for the purposes of exchanging a needle” When publicisied, this should reduce the perception of the risk of being caught and arrested, thus working to increase the number of returns…..

9 Tackling drug related litter – Recommendations
Liaise with your local Environment Agency office at the earliest opportunity in order to determine what regulations apply and how these will be enforced Drugs related litter is regarded as hazourdous waste – as a result….. There are regulations that govern the collecting, storing, transferring and disposing of needles and syringes. Anyone involved in these activities should be aware of these regulations that govern waste of this type. The introduction of new Hazardous Waste Regulations from July 2005 have imposed new requirements on many people who deal with wastes associated with drug use. Further, the exemptions used by exchange schemes and other services, are currently under review. The outcome of this review could impact on the way the EA regulates such schemes from early 2006.

10 Tackling drug related litter - Recommendations
Working in partnership is the key to the effective management and reduction of drug related litter. Whatever range of approaches are taken, they will all be far more effective when taken in partnership. There are a wide range of agencies and organisations that will have some part to play in reducing the problem and its wider impacts This is probably the most obvious of all the recommendations – but I think it is also the most important……. The simple fact is that working together will deliver better results than failing to join up. Who should be be involved in any partnership? The LA (cleansing, housing, parks and leisure), Police, DAT, Drug Reference Group, Needle Exchange Service, Drug users and user group, housing providers, PCTs, warden schemes, etc The reality is that unlike other litter, many of the interventions needed to tackle DRL are carried out by different partners and not by one service on its own. A LA might be able to offer as first class cleaning service, yet will not be able to foster the peer education amongst users to reduce the amount of DRL. Similarly drug workers that are in a position to work with users may not be able to improve bin provision and introduce cleansing hotlines without a partnership in place. But what of the benefits? – to name a few…. Cross agency information exchange Identification of hotspots, which can lead to targeted activity to tackle them Sharing resources – such as training Better informed design solutions, such as for toilets – rather than design in isolation Clear and consistent dialogue with the public – agreed lines to take rather than conflicting messages

11 Tackling drug related litter - Recommendations
Where drug related litter is identified as a problem, agencies in an area should prepare one joint plan to tackle it; clearly identifying all relevant stakeholders with them signed up to specific roles This recommendation is all about making a plan……... Why have any number of plans when by working in partnership there only needs to be one for tackling DRL in any given area. Why – a few reasons…… Partners can identify their roles and the roles of others Common aims and objectives can be set Partners can be held to account for delivery Resources can be better allocated It can be shown to the community at large that action is being taken and Targets for reduction can be set

12 Tackling drug related litter - Recommendations
Coordinate the reporting of discarded needles across all local agencies and departments in order to establish a true picture of the extent, locations and nature of the problem The point of this recommendation is that unless any partnership has an accurate picture of the scale and extent of a drug problem, the amount of DRL, then it simply cannot be managed. I have already mentioned the suspected under reporting by LAs But to realise this recommendation there needs to be one system used by all partners, for recording this information. Only this way…. will trends be identified and then addressed Can progress be shown Can hot spots be identified and targeted Can the movements of users and markets be tracked across an area The list goes on….

13 Tackling drug related litter - Recommendations
Needle exchanges and other suppliers of harm reduction equipment for drug users should ensure that they actively work with local partners to reduce the incidence of needles and other drug litter discarded in public places This recommendation reads….. Needle exchange schemes have a big part to play in any local plan to reduce and manage drug related litter. As a result they are a key partner in any partnership to tackle DRL. Schemes already make a vital contribution through managing needle returns and providing sharps bins for users, they also play a vital part in educating users and providing services in such a way to reduce the level of discarded needles and other litter. Where necessary and appropriate, the dangers of unsafe disposal can be explained. Needle exchange schemes and their staff are a key link with users and as a result are a vital link to any partnership.

14 Tackling drug related litter - Recommendations
Local authority cleansing standards should include clear response times for drug litter (and other dangerous items) that are faster than those for general litter This is a common sense recommendation for Las. It is important to respond as quickly as possible to reports of discarded needles to minimise any public distress – to this end many Las have dedicated teams to deal with needle finds around the clock.

15 Tackling drug related litter - Recommendations
Local service providers should deliver a 24 hour service; collecting needles from as wide a range of locations as possible; working with neighbouring agencies to provide this where it is more efficient to do so. Repeat calls to the same location should be followed up with proactive design solutions And following on from the previous recommendation…….. From a member of the public’s point of view, the perceived risk doesn’t go away until the needle has been cleared – hence the desirability of a round the clock service. Further, this doesn’t just need to be the job of the LA, for example, Wardens also play a vital role – between April 2002 and October 2004 wardens in Hull alone removed over 24,000 needles.

16 Tackling drug related litter - Recommendations
Training and briefing should be provided for all those who will potentially come into contact with drug litter. Staff should take the view that any needle or paraphernalia could be infected and will therefore present a risk requiring appropriate management And on training…… Regular, quality training will always be far more effective than all the protective equipment that money can buy. A wide view should be taken when deciding who to target for training – and should include the toilet cleaners, the car park attendants, the caretakers, the list goes on – anyone who could come into contact with used equipment in the course of their job. And again a comment on partnership – training should be provided and offered across a partnership to all of the stakeholders involved.

17 Tackling drug related litter - Recommendations
Plans for managing drug related litter should include close liaison with those responsible for the design, maintenance and management of public toilets This is quite a specific recommendation on the broader issue of design….. In reality it applies to the design an maintenance of any public place. Taking design as a whole, the guidance, explores some of the possibilities of designing out as a solution to drugs litter. This through the use of lighting, removal of hiding places, the use of trap baskets in drains and bringing poorly maintained areas back into use. However, the use of design needs to be considered carefully, as due to the transient nature of drug markets and use, design solutions may just end up moving the problem to a new location, where it might well be harder to manage. That said, the Guidance does offer a range of advice. Returning to public toilets, as an example, a number of considerations can reduce the amount of DRL in public toilets, such as: Removing surfaces used for preparation and hiding drugs and needles; Maximising surveillance at unattended sites Introducing pay on entry schemes Installing drug needle chutes

18 Tackling drug related litter - Recommendations
Due to the increased risk to users and lack of evidence as to its efficiency, blue lighting should not be used in public toilets to deter drug use This is a very specific recommendation…… Yet I think this recommendation signals the wide audience that we are trying to reach with this publication, for example, those that might be responsible for the design of toilet facilities, who might think that the use of blue lighting is a pragmatic solution, the guidance sets out why it should be carefully considered By providing this kind of advice we hope that we can influence these decisions and avoid the potentially undesirable consequences.

19 Tackling drug related litter - Recommendations
Partnerships should fully explore the potential for sharps bins, liaising closely with drug users and services to ensure the siting and promotion of bins is as effective as possible On sharps bins…… The instillation of sharps bins in public areas is always going to be controversial – any debate should involve all partners and those with a legitimate interest. Although there may be local resistance to public bins, it is clear from research that a significant barrier to appropriate disposal is the lack of facilities, particularly outside the hours during which exchange schemes and other services operate. Public sharps bins provide one means of removing the barrier, providing the type of bin used and the location is carefully considered.

20 Tackling drug related litter - Recommendations
Public information should not include any suggestion that needles can be moved or touched, nor any reference to steps that the public could take to dispose of needles they find. At the very least, full legal advice should be sought before including any such advice And finally a recommendation on public information, which should……. What this doesn’t preclude is the inclusion of advice on what to do in the case of sustaining an injury from a needle. This week ENCAMS launched a range of posters aimed specifically at school children with the message “…… Alongside the posters, which can be ordered from their website they have also produced a CD Knowledge Bank for use in the classroom.

21 Tackling drug related litter
Funding Further information The guide ends with a section on funding and one on further information. The funding section is just that, whilst not being an exhaustive list, it details where funding might be found The further information section is there to signpost the reader to the wealth of information and source material that was used to pull the guidance together. It lists a range of publications and give web links where appropriate.

22 Further information
Please can I encourage you to take a copy of the guidance. And if you want further information…… Now it is over to you for any question or comment – or to share any experience of dealing with DRL. Thanks

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