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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 September 2006, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
Syringe machine idea turned down
The plan would have seen addicts given access to clean needles
Plans to install a needle vending machine by a police station have been rejected by councillors.

North Wales Police had wanted to place the 10,000 machine in Colwyn Bay so it could have been used by registered drug addicts issued with tokens.

But several Conwy councillors said the siting was inappropriate in a sensitive town centre area, and any such machine would have needed to be supervised.

They did, however, vote in support of the principle of a needle exchange.

One councillor, Darren Millar, said it was not a vote against the principle of a machine, but only to having one at that site.

A final decision is due to be made at a planning meeting which will probably be held in October.

Before the meeting a drug treatment charity in the town called for the idea to be scrapped, and also argued that any such scheme should be supervised.

A needle vending machine is not the answer because it removes the human contact that the addict needs
Danie Strydom, Touchstones12

Touchstones12 had also put an advert in a local newspaper to condemn the scheme.

North Wales Police chief constable Richard Brunstrom had said the scheme would help drug addicts by ensuring drug users did not need to share dirty needles.

The Conwy meeting was a joint one involving members of two community committees.

Later this year a planning application for the machine will have to be determined by the council, which owns the police station, a listed building.

Councillors were told that a leading chemist in Colwyn Bay had agreed to become involved in the needle exchange.

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.

if the syring machine idea had gone ahead, addicts would have used tokens provided by rehabilitation agencies in the area.

The vending machine needed planning approval by Conwy County Council and would have become the first of its kind in Britain.

CCTV camera

The National Public Health Service for Wales said the lack of a needle exchange was a "barrier" to controlling rates of infection of HIV among drug users.

Colwyn Bay police station
The machine would be sited outside the town's police station

In a report, it said: "Pharmacies and vending machines increase the availability and probably the utilisation of sterile injecting equipment by injecting drug users."

But Danie Strydom, director of Touchstones12, a charity which helps recovering addicts and promotes an abstinence policy, said before the meeting that the scheme would not provide the face-to-face contact needed when dealing with addicts.

He said: "There would be a bin placed under a CCTV camera which would require the addict themselves to place there old needles in the bin. It's never going to happen."

"A needle vending machine is not the answer because it removes the human contact that the addict needs."

But Cais, another organisation which helps people with drugs and alcohol problems, was in favour of the scheme.

Business director Chris Dukes said: "Anything that is put into the community that alleviates this harm has to be a good thing.

"We would all very much welcome the human face in being able to exchange needles, but that's not the situation in Colwyn Bay."

"A needle vending machine is not the answer"

Police back drug needle machine
11 Sep 06 |  North West Wales
'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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