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Last Updated: Monday, 11 September 2006, 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
Police back drug needle machine
Colwyn Bay police station
The machine will be sited outside the town's police station
What is thought to be Britain's first vending machine for dispensing clean needles to drug addicts could be set up outside a police station in Colwyn Bay.

North Wales Police chief constable Richard Brunstrom is backing the scheme to install the 10,000 machine in the town, saying it will help save lives.

A planning application to Conwy County Council will be needed first.

But the idea has been attacked by a charity which helps recovering addicts and promotes an abstinence policy.

Danie Strydom director of the Touchstones12 charity said: "What's next? The chief constable standing on the street handing out free bags of heroin?

"He is famous for enforcing the speed laws, but what about enforcing the law against drug misuse?"

Richard Brunstrom
The problem of drug abuse will not diminish by pretending it does not exist
Richard Brunstrom, chief constable, North Wales Police

"The Welsh Assembly spends 2.2m on substance misuse in north Wales and just 15,000 keeping people clean," he added.

Mr Brunstrom said the scheme will help drug addicts lacking facilities in the area.

"This proposal is in the interest of the public and is designed specifically to save lives. The problem of drug abuse will not diminish by pretending it does not exist," he said.

The machine will be imported from Australia, where its use is widespread.

It will allow drug addicts to get a clean new needle in a pack, and dispose of dirty needles in a steel bin.

Pharmacies and hospitals in many areas of north Wales already hand out clean needles, but the service does not exist in the Colwyn Bay area.

'Vigilante'

Maldwyn Roberts, a former police officer and now north Wales co-ordinator for community safety and substance misuse, defended the scheme.

"There has been a vigilante attitude from people in Colwyn Bay," he said.

"We have to face reality - they are injecting already. By not giving them any facilities, we just bury our heads in the sand.

"It is a first step to getting them help. It is not encouraging them to take drugs, it is encouraging them to get clean needles and to get them help, " he added.

The machine will be paid for and replaced by the Welsh Ambulance Trust.

It will not take money in case children try to buy and play with needles, but will take tokens provided by rehabilitation agencies in the area.




SEE ALSO
'Ailing' town welcomes funding
22 Nov 04 |  North West Wales
Town 'is drug and criminal mecca'
13 Nov 03 |  North West Wales

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