No let up in needle crackdown

Needles previously found in Central Park
Needles previously found in Central Park

You may recall that last year a task force group was set up to tackle the problem of discarded needles and drugs paraphernalia in Peterborough, writes Rob Hill, Peterborough City Council Assistant Director: Public Protection.

The group has already achieved a number of successes, including working with pharmacies to raise awareness of needle exchange programmes in the city, which in turn has seen more needles handed in.

The team recently made a visit to Ipswich, which is of a similar size to Peterborough, and has also had problems with discarded needles in recent years.

The purpose was to see how Ipswich Borough Council and their partner organisations have tackled the problem and the team certainly found it useful.

On the back of this, we are moving ahead with some exciting developments which I’m confident will make a positive difference in Peterborough.

We will be installing ten new needle bins in ‘hotspot’ areas across the city very soon and launching new cards containing details of how to report needle finds.

The cards will be available in pharmacies and other public places and have proved particularly effective in Ipswich.

We will also be publishing a ‘hotspot map’ of needle finds on our social media channels on a regular basis, which we hope will prove a valuable tool for members of the public and encourage more people to report found needles to us.

We’re under no illusions that this is a difficult problem to solve and an issue that affects many towns and cities across the UK, not just Peterborough.

However, our utmost priority is the protection and safety of the public, so we will continue to do all we can to make a difference.

In the meantime, I would remind people to report any discarded needles they find to us by calling 01733 747474 or online at www.peterborough.gov.uk

Tackling all forms of hate crime is another commitment for the Safer Peterborough Partnership.

We don’t have a major issue with hate crimes in Peterborough, but are conscious that nationally this subject has been highlighted in relation to the Brexit vote.

So we would encourage all victims or persons concerned that a hate crime has been committed to report it to the police or to a third party reporting centre (in Peterborough this is either to the new Customer Services Centre in Bridge Street or Cross Keys Homes).

You can also report incidents online at http://www.report-it.org.uk/home

You may be aware that shortly we will be adopting a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) in the Woodston area of Peterborough.

We already have two PSPOs in Peterborough - in Bridge Street and in the Millfield area which have helped to reduce anti-social issues such as littering and dangerous cycling.

The Woodston PSPO should be up and running within the next couple of months and we’ll be announcing full details ahead of its launch.

I want to assure residents that we are committed to using PSPOs positively to address issues communities have raised as a concern.

Youngsters have been learning about the importance of road safety as part of a special campaign in recent weeks.

The ‘Big Pedal’ scheme has seen officers from the council’s road safety team working in partnership with Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Sustrans offering road safety messages to children to ensure they are walking and cycling safely.

The aim is to provide children with practical skills to help reduce their chances of being involved in a collision, potentially saving their lives.

In 2018 there were 64 reported injury collisions involving cyclists in Peterborough and 22 per cent of these involved young people aged between five and 16.

We want to reduce this figure even further and help support this age group to make them safe road users in the future.

Finally I would like to wish everyone a Happy Easter. As this time of year is one of the busiest on roads, please keep safe at all times.