Plotting the distribution of needle finds

We have reported many needle find incidents recently, and that is barely the tip of a very big iceberg. So, as data accumulates concerning reported needle finds, can anything be achieved by collating those data?

Another report of a needle find, this time of a Toronto lady who had the misfortune to step on a discarded syringe, the needle of which pierced deep into her heel reveals just what can be done.

So, when the local paper submitted a Freedom of Information request to the city authority, 18 months of data on discarded syringe-related reports to the city’s 311 service line was obtained.

 The data revealed 137 requests were submitted to the city’s 311 help centre between January 2012 and June 6, 2013, resulting in the recovery of 571 discarded needles from Toronto parks, sidewalks and alleys. The number may actually be higher, since the Star lowballed the total due to vague estimations within many of the 311 requests.

The consolidated information shows the number of needles reported in Ward 6 — which encapsulates Mimico — increased from one last year to five so far this year — not including the one Monk stepped on. Also, out of 44 wards, this outlying Etobicoke-Lakeshore ward ranks seventh for the most needle-related 311 reports.

The data can be found here.

It’s a great resource, to consider the simple practicalities of litter management and in particular of hot-spot management, to consider placement of secure sharps bins, to focus needle exchange services and other support to IV drug users, an to identify those highest risk areas that require regular patrols. Police might cross-reference the data with crime reports, to improve patrol and surveillance activities.

This is a great resource. Though similar data must be available to all UK local authorities never have I found anything like this. A missed opportunity, though with many local authorities expecting those who report needle finds to go back and pick it up themselves, I have doubts if data could be collated in any useful way at all.



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Your email address will not be published.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.