Man put police at infection risk with needle

Needle with drop of bloodEchoing in some part this report from US, a Dundee IV drug user placed Police officers at risk of sharps injury and infection when he failed to disclose he had an uncapped needle in his pocket when they searched him.

It is routine for Police to ask those that they intend to search if they have anything in their pockets/bags etc that might cause harm, and this chap had an uncapped needle but failed to say so.

Scott John Steven Flynn, who had stolen a wallet and mobile phone from the changing rooms at Dundee Ice Arena, had sentence deferred by Sheriff Munro. He apologised for his actions when traced at his home a short time after the theft. However, he failed to tell police of the needle in his pocket, saying he had picked it up and was going to dispose of it.

Flynn told police: “I’m sorry, I realised I had done wrong. I wanted to redeem myself.”

Flynn admitted he stole a wallet and iPhone. He further admitted culpably and recklessly failing to disclose when asked by a police officer he had an uncapped needle in his pocket and exposed the officers to risk of injury when searching him. Both offences were committed while he was on bail for offences that necessitated a Drug Treatment and Testing Order.

No doubt therefore somewhat of a regular for the Police, and regrettably an all to common risk that they face.

Making this worse, Dundee is a particular hotspot for IV drug abuse and a high rate for Hepatitis C infection. The risks from a needlestick or sharps injury are therefore as high as possible. The Police and Courts do what they can, but it is almost inevitable that these people go round and around until their biggest overdose or infection takes their lives. The continuing cost to society is massive.

There are many proposals for resolution, from free but regulated drug supplies and decriminalisation to the iron fist of heavy policing and jail sentences that are likely only to swell the prison population and increase costs to the taxpayer without solving the root cause.

Freely available clean needles will not create a universal resolution, but will surely reduce the risks to IV drug users and others who may be exposed to discarded needles. One can imagine the outcry at the creation of drug injection rooms but they have been proven to reduce infection risks, for users and others. In the UK, the moral majority dislike public money spent on needle exchange schemes, so they will like even less the supply of passive safety needles. Automatically retracting the needle when used, these are effectively failsafe and will surely reduce risks of sharps injury still further.

This will take time and effort – it takes some training to use a safety engineered safety sharp properly and this is where the moral majority will baulk at the assistance that must be given, and there would be substantial associated costs. But the advantages, of reduced sharps injury risk, will be considerable and outweigh other concerns. We should trial this as a matter of some urgency with a view to rolling out safety sharps as a priority.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.