‘Make park safe for our kids again’

A bagful of drug-taking paraphernalia found at the area frequented by drug users at the playpark at South Grove, Lower Methil.
A bagful of drug-taking paraphernalia found at the area frequented by drug users at the playpark at South Grove, Lower Methil.

PARENTS near a Lower Methil playpark are at their wits’ end at a corner of the park being used as a drugs’ den, just metres from where their children play.

“Do these people care so little about their own lives that they don’t care that kids in the park can pick up what they throw away?” said one local dad, who lives beside the park at South Grove but asked not to be named.

He is convinced it is methadone users receiving their prescriptions from the nearby pharmacy in the High Street, especially on a Saturday, when those normally supervised in taking the drug receive an additional dose to take on Sunday when the chemist is closed, who are then swapping it for heroin and going to the park to shoot up.

When the Mail went to the park with a resident last Wednesday afternoon, there was evidence of the corner having been used, with swabs, empty syringe wrappers, lightweight ‘spoons’, half a dozen empty ‘sin bins’ (plastic boxes that are meant to be used for the safe disposal of used needles) and several empty citric acid packets (used to dissolve the drug) scattered among the undergrowth.

We also found three stashes of unused drug-using paraphernalia, including around two dozen syringes, wrapped in polythene bags and tucked into bushes just out of view of the main park.

“My wee boy and his pals don’t just play on the equipment, they’re in these bushes making dens and doing all the things you want your kids to do – what if they’d found these, what if they’d opened them and played with them?” he said angrily, when he saw what was in the packets.

While no used needles were found, the resident said his mother, who also stayed nearby, regularly checks the corner when she takes her grandchildren to the park and, only a few days before, had picked up two needles and disposed of them safely in one of the sin bins and removed them from the site.

“What are we meant to do when we see something like that lying on the ground?” he said. “You can’t leave needles lying around, you’d never forgive yourself in something happened to a bairn.”

While Fife Police were unable to comment on any alleged drug dealing activites in the area, Chief Inspector Graeme Kinmond, from Levenmouth police, said: “Local youths gather periodically in this area. We have regular patrols to discourage this and are working in partnership with the council and environmental health to ensure the park is kept safe and clean.

“If anyone sees used needles in the area, please do not pick them us but contact the police or environmental services.”

Commenting on the park, Fife Council’s area parks team leader, John Falconer, said: “We make regular checks of the playpark, emptying bins and clearing away any litter as well as making sure play equipment is safe. This is done every seven to 10 days and a sweep of the entire area is planned for the next few days.

“We pulled out a number of shrubs in the area two weeks ago and grassed over an area to try and discourage youngsters from abusing the facility. In the past month we have found one needle which had been put in the bin provided.”

“All we want is for the park to be safe for our kids to play in again,” he said.

Local councillor Andrew Rodger has asked the council’s area housing team leader to co-ordinate action with environmental services, police and other relevant agencies as soon as possible, saying the situation was a sad state of affairs.

“We can’t have this in a children’s area - families need to know their children are safe,” he added.

THERE are currently 210 people in Levenmouth being prescribed methadone by the NHS Fife Addiction Services, 56 of whom are dispensed methadone from the pharmacy in Lower Methil.

A statement from NHS Fife, on behalf of the various agencies involved in addiction services, explained that the decision to prescribe methadone is made after comprehensive clinical assessment, involving the assessment of dependence, the patient’s goals/desired outcomes treatment, risk behaviour and confirmation that the individual is taking drugs.

This is usually undertaken by medical staff employed by NHS Fife or GPs.

Methadone is only prescribed for individuals who are opioid dependent and who have undergone comprehensive clinical assessment and have a treatment plan agreed.

The organisation Addaction Scotland operates a harm reduction service throughout Fife.

This involves working in partnership with local pharmacies to provide a needle exchange service to ensure the distribution and safe disposal of injecting equipment.

Addaction has bases in Glenrothes and Levenmouth where people can drop in for advice and information relating to their own or someone else’s substance use.

Both Addaction and the pharmacies made great efforts to advise and encourage the return and safe disposal of used injecting equipment.

A LOCAL drug addiction expert has urged caution in damning all addicts because of the irresponsible actions of a few.

Martin Denholm, service co-ordinator of Drug and Alcohol Project Ltd (DAPL), which is based in Levenmouth, said that while he agreed completely that residents were right to be angry that this was happening in a playpark, in his opinion this was the actions of a very small minority of users who were not being mindful of the community there were living in.

“The danger is that everyone gets tarred by the same brush,” he said.

Asked if he thought it was feasible that methadone was being exchanged for heroin or sold, he said drug dealing was a “commodity driven market” and that methadone had a street value.

“While Levenmouth is no worse than many other areas, we do have drug and alcohol issues and there is an infrastructure in place to treat that,” he continued.

“But there is no easy solution and substance abuse is a community issue.”