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North Richmond residents demand safe injecting room be moved as public drug use runs rampant

Residents of Victoria’s ‘heroin capital’ are calling for a safe injection room to be moved to a different location as public drug use continues to run rampant.  

Shocking footage has emerged showing addicts brazenly shooting up on streets, parks and even outside a primary school in North Richmond, just minutes from Melbourne’s CBD.  

The activity has sparked outcry from members of the community who reported three separate instances of public injecting within metres of a school on Thursday alone. 

At lunchtime, two drug users were photographed handling a pile of syringes as they prepared to shoot up on Lennox St, opposite the city’s controversial medically supervised injecting room.

Another two men were spotted injecting just outside the gates of Richmond West Primary School, around the same time.

Two drug users were photographed handling a heap of syringes as they prepared to shoot up on Lennox St, opposite the city’s medically supervised injecting room on Thursday afternoon

Another two men were spotted injecting just outside the school's gates of Richmond West Primary School, around the same time

Another two men were spotted injecting just outside the school’s gates of Richmond West Primary School, around the same time

School staff were seen outside the school inspecting the area

School staff were seen outside the school inspecting the area 

Two more people were filmed shooting up in broad daylight in a car park behind Victoria Street shops.  

The North Richmond Community Health building on Lennox Street was opened last year in a bid to curb the drug epidemic which saw 30 people died from overdoses in the previous 12 months in the so-called ‘heroin rectangle’ surrounding the centre.    

There have been more than 60,000 visits to the centre and nearly 3,000 people have used it to inject drugs, mostly heroin, since it opened in June last year.

Poll

Do you think the safe injecting room trial should be scrapped?

  • Yes 64 votes
  • No 13 votes
  • Unsure 4 votes

More than 1,200 overdoses have also been safely managed, the trial’s medical director Nico Clark said. 

But locals believe the move has instead turned the neighbourhood into a drug den, with streets littered with discarded needles, leaving parents concerned for their children. 

Outraged residents have taken to Facebook groups to share footage of public drug use sightings as they lobby to have the facility moved to a different area, saying the situation is ‘completely out of control.’  

One woman shared a photo of a syringe she discovered in the elevator of her building after attending a information session on the issue. 

‘So came home after THE meeting, and look what was in my lift… a bloody syringe to greet me,’ she said.  

A woman shared a photo of a discarded syringe she found in her building elevator on Thursday night

A woman shared a photo of a discarded syringe she found in her building elevator on Thursday night 

A park on Belgium Avenue has been dubbed the 'Gathering Place' by drug users who meet at there to shoot up.  Two men are pictured preparing their drugs

A park on Belgium Avenue has been dubbed the ‘Gathering Place’ by drug users who meet at there to shoot up.  Two men are pictured preparing their drugs 

A woman was filmed at the 'Gathering Place'  on Wednesday afternoon, shooting into her thigh in broad daylight

A woman was filmed at the ‘Gathering Place’  on Wednesday afternoon, shooting into her thigh in broad daylight

One resident uploaded a video of a woman at a Belgium Avenue park – now known among drug users as the ‘Gathering Place’ – shooting up in her thighs with a friend on Wednesday afternoon. 

‘Just another day in North Richmond visiting my family,’ she said in a caption. 

Another woman, who lives 100 metres from the injecting room, said three homes on her block have been put on the market as some residents feel the area is no longer safe to raise a family.     

‘There has always been a reasonable turnover in this street, but a cluster like this seems depressingly unprecedented,’ she said. 

She continued: ‘The family from the third house told my husband this is not a good place to raise kids. 

‘These people are not politically active and, like most residents, have no interest in political activism. They have no faith that the government will make the right choices for our community any time soon.’ 

In May, State Labor Mental Health Minister Martin Foley said he was aware of an overnight meeting of angry residents, but added there are no plans to end the trial. 

The centre reported a month before that there had been 650 overdose incidents in the building, but no deaths since the facility opened. 

The city opened the medically safe injecting space North Richmond Community Health building (pictured) last year

The city opened the medically safe injecting space North Richmond Community Health building (pictured) last year

The 'heroin rectangle' is bordered by Hoddle Street, Elizabeth St, Victoria St and Lennox St (pictured)

The ‘heroin rectangle’ is bordered by Hoddle Street, Elizabeth St, Victoria St and Lennox St (pictured)

Earlier this month, the state government opened a new drug injecting centre next to NRCHC, saying the expansion of the injecting room trial will help stop more addicts shooting up on inner city streets. 

The government said there are more security patrols and outreach services in the area amid ongoing community complaints about the trial. 

Council workers are collecting drug paraphernalia including syringes from the streets twice a day.

It comes after a coroner last month revealed there had been virtually no reduction in heroin-related deaths around North Richmond in the centre’s first six months of operation.

But Coroner Audrey Jamieson also said the trial was essential and six months was not enough time to judge its effect on drug-related harm in the area. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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