Needled by find on the way to primary

A PARENT of a Maisondieu School pupil has told the Brechiner of her shock and disgust after her husband found drug paraphernalia just outside the school grounds.

Sheaths from hypodermic needles were found by Mr Ged Paton, whose seven-year-old daughter has just gone into primary three.

“It was actually my husband who took our daughter to school and he found the sheaths from needles,” said Mrs Angela Paton.

“He went straight in and got the head teacher, Mrs Tough, and she came straight out and picked them up.

“But she shouldn’t have to be doing that. And if it had been actual needles, she couldn’t risk picking them up herself.

“Who, in their right minds, would leave something like that near a primary school?

“There could be a kid out in the playground at playtime, sees one and says: “oh what’s that?”, and picks it up. And young children will not only pick up anything, they’ll put things in their mouths as well.

“Just because the needles haven’t been found doesn’t mean those responsible are taking them away with them, because surely, before they put them in their pockets, they would put the sheaths back on. I think the needles are out there somewhere.

“My daughter’s just turned seven and has the common sense to never think about touching a needle, but there are three-year-olds walking through the area into nursery.”

Earlier in the year The Brechiner had told of complaints of dog’s dirt being found at a gate beside an entrance to the school, which pupils who come from Argyll Street to the school had to walk past.

Mrs Paton told The Brechiner how, over the past few days, there had been broken beer bottles found in the same location, an obvious hazard, especially for younger children.

“They were actually in the school grounds. It’s like they’ve been thrown over the fence.

“I can’t praise the school highly enough. Staff have been out first thing cleaning up the broken glass too, but again, it’s not the job of teachers to be doing that. But for the safety and well-being of the kids they’re doing it.

“The path between Market Street and Clerk Street, beside the Stables pub, is littered with broken glass as well, and that’s a popular cut-through for kids because it’s right across from the school entrance.

“The council is certainly going to need to do something about that but what can they do, short of being out there every day?”

The next Maisondieu Parent Council meeting is on Thursday, September 15, at 7.30pm, when Mrs Paton has said she will definitely be raising the issues.

A spokesperson for Angus Council said: “Protective sheaths from two hypodermic syringes were found discarded in St. Andrew Street, outside school premises.

“They were removed, and the area checked for the needles themselves. Angus Council’s health and safety service was alerted and janitorial staff conducted a further search of the school grounds and surrounding area to ensure it was free of sharp objects prior to the children’s morning interval.

“Although no such objects were found in the vicinity, as a precautionary measure, the school will undertake work with the pupils to make them aware of the potential danger from picking up sharp objects and what to do should they find such objects.

“In order to minimise potential risk, janitorial staff and playground assistants have been instructed to remain vigilant during their daily health and safety checks and general supervision of the playground.”

The discarding of needles by drug addicts is a problem which seriously affects the whole of Scotland, with Angus being no exception. In Montrose, in January this year, tenants claimed six syringes were found in children’s play parks and that the dangerous practice has been ongoing for years. Then in June, a female drug addict from Forfar was jailed for nine-months after a needle pricked a female Tayside police sergeant, giving the officer an agonising six-month wait to be given the all clear from HIV and hepatitis.

Further afield, past surveys have revealed that as many as 800 used needles are carelessly discarded every day in Edinburgh, and up to a million in total last year throughout Scotland.