WREXHAM Council say they are doing everything they can to prevent and help those struggling with drug issues in the town.

It follows footage emerging of a man stumbling about in a ‘zombie-like’ state outside the town’s McDonalds, and that several discarded needles on the pavement had to be collected by the restaurant’s management following concerns from horrified parents.

Wrexham Council also removed benches and phone boxes from Lord Street in an effort to tackle anti-social behaviour issues, including drug dealing.

Despite these incidents, the council say they are making progress in reducing anti-social behaviour, and doing everything they can to support those living with addictions, while police have reinforced the message they are highly committed to tackling the issue and making the public feel safe.

The Leader:

A man under the influence of drugs outside McDonald's in Wrexham was caught on camera

Cllr Hugh Jones, lead member for communities, partnerships, public protection and community safety, said: “We work as part of a multi-agency partnership which provides targeted and relevant support to those in need to help turn their lives around. This has contributed to a 43 per cent drop in anti-social behaviour in Wrexham town centre.

“By working alongside police, health services and appropriate support and rehabilitation agencies we have seen significant progress in recent years and this vital work will continue.

“Whilst some behaviour relating to drug use has been broadcast on social media focussing attention on this matter in recent weeks, we can assure people we are doing everything we can with the available resources to support and rehabilitate those engaging in this activity.

The Leader:

Benches and phone boxes were removed from Lord Street in Wrexham town centre 

“The increased police patrols by the police in the town centre have been welcome and are providing reassurances to the public that anti- social behaviour will not be tolerated.”

Wrexham Town Inspector Vic Powell said: “My officers are on the streets of Wrexham every day, heavily committed to providing reassurance, enforcing the law, community engagement and identifying opportunities for intervention.

“The drugs issue in Wrexham is similar to many towns throughout the country. On the policing side, our focus is to target those in our communities who cause the most harm by bringing in drugs and supplying them to vulnerable people. It is important we listen to communities and where necessary take proportionate and positive action.

The Leader:

Wrexham MP Ian Lucas, left, and Wrexham town centre inspector Vic Powell

“We also work with other agencies to signpost those in crisis to the appropriate support and facilities available to help them break the cycle of addiction and all the associated problems that addiction brings with it.”

Wrexham’s MP, Ian Lucas insisted support and rehabilitation is the key to reversing the problem.

He said: “I’ve doing quite a lot of work the last couple of years with CAIS to try to engage people who’ve got drug problems in the town and to present them with alternative ways of leading their lives.

“Obviously, this has to be with support, because I know it’s such a difficult process for people to have to go through. It must be a terrible thing for a parent to see their child, no matter how old that child is, to end up in a situation like this.

“I’ve developed relationships with organisations within the town who are providing support services for people with drug problems. We need to give them maximum support because we can’t have a situation like this continuing.”

 

The situation is making people think twice over visiting town

Shoppers and business owners in Wrexham town centre have had their say the town’s drug issues and the wider impact they have.

Steven Vale, owner of Caroline’s Viennese Patisserie in the Butchers’ Market Central Arcade, said: “I had a needle through the side of my hand last year.

“There was a lot of paraphernalia in the entrance to the arcade - I was picking up a sleeping bag when I felt a prick in my hand and there it was.

“I’m very wary about drug paraphernalia and the damage it does.

“The council spent a lot of money on the Welfare Centre (Hafan Y Dref) but it is only open to cater to the night-time economy.

“That could be a needle exchange so people have a place to put their used needles - I’m not condoning anything or giving people a hard time, but that could help.

The Leader:

Wrexham town centre

“I’ve been a victim of this issue and burying it isn’t going to make it go away.”

Speaking of how trade is affected by drugs, he added: “It’s definitely having an impact. All of my customers talk about it - it’s a common theme, especially among the elderly.

“They are concerned about coming to the town.

“Removing the furniture and the phone boxes is not the answer - it’s a knee-jerk reaction.”

Alun Hughes, who runs the Alun Hughes Film, Music and Nostalgia on Bank Street said: “I would say it is bound to have an impact. From a business point of view, it is not helping.

The Leader:

Concerns: Dorothy Crimes, owner of Dot 2 Dot Cafe; Alun Hughes, who runs the Alun Hughes Film, Music and Nostalgia store; and Steven Vale, owner of Caroline's Viennese Patisserie

“We can’t have anti-social behaviour going on and expect older people and families to come here.”

Mr Hughes said that while he wished to see the law applied, he also wished to see “humanity” applied, in order for drug users to get the help they need to change their lives.

Dorothy Crimes, owner of Dot 2 Dot Café in Henblas Street, said: “It’s stopping people coming into town, especially older people. They don’t want to walk past that.

“We used to see more needles here, but to be fair it’s not as bad now.

“The police are very good, they are doing their best.”

One shopper, who did not want to be named, said: “I don’t like bringing my grandchildren into the town because I don’t want them to see that.”

Another shopper said: “I would not come to the town without my husband - they (drug users) look like zombies and no one wants to see that.”

One man, who did not want to be named, said: “It’s the same if you go to other towns but because Wrexham centre is smaller, you see it more.”

 

'It has gone badly downhill... whole town is like a zombie town'

A USER of a well-known car park in Wrexham has spoken of her horror at discovering used drug paraphernalia, whilst accompanied by young children.

Kayleigh Smith, 30, from Holywell, spoke candidly of the incident, which took place at St Mark’s multi-storey car park on July 31, which nearly led to her friend’s seven-year-old son touching the used item.

She said: “The incident happened after noon.

“I came into Wrexham as my 12-year-old son needed to attend an appointment at the Maelor Hospital.

“After the appointment, myself, my son, my friend and her young son decided to go and get some food as well as doing a bit of shopping afterwards.

The Leader:

Used drugs paraphernalia in St Mark's car park in Wrexham. Pictures: Kayleigh Smith

“We parked on the second floor of the car park and as we went to use the lift, I saw used black foil located right outside it.

“My friend’s young son went to pick up the foil but was only stopped after I luckily shouted at him not to do so.”

She added: “I used to travel to Wrexham to shop on a frequent basis but I don’t think I will in future, as it has badly gone downhill.

“The whole town is like a zombie zone and it’s not a pleasant sight for young children to have to witness.

“After leaving the car park to go and get some lunch, we saw an individual completely out of it.

“It shouldn’t be like this and the company who manages the car park need to take some sort of responsibility, as when this incident took place, not one member of staff could be seen.”

The Leader:

A spokesman for ParkingEye Ltd, who manage the St Mark’s car park, said: “Staff are present during the car park operational hours on a daily basis, including regular cleaning and maintenance of the site.

“We’ve also recently employed an additional security team to remove any individuals carrying out anti-social behaviour.

“The car park is locked up outside of operating times, ensuring no access can be obtained.

“Whilst we cannot control what occurs outside of the car park, we are taking action to ensure the building itself is clean, tidy and safe for all users.”

 

'Shame things have come to this, in what used to be a vibrant town'

Hundreds of readers have been leaving their thoughts on the Leader Facebook page.

Kirsty Edwards said: “Last night at 8pm with my baby and my six-year-old daughter, I witnessed a man just about to take drugs in the bus stop. 

“He only stopped because a man shouted at him saying he’d stolen his cocaine. Nobody should have to witness this, let alone kids.”

Herron Bill said: “I go down to see my children and take them to McDonald’s and I’ve got to admit it’s disgraceful people acting like zombies, people sitting down drinking, disgusting.”

Andrea Gaunt added: “I won’t bring our son to Wrexham - yes issues are everywhere but this is so blatant its beggars’ belief. What’s to stop one of them stabbing someone with a needle because they are off their heads. More police/council and mental health services are needed.”

Dawn Smallwood said: “This is exactly why I won’t take my children to town anymore; kids should not have to witness this.”

The Leader:

Wrexham town centre

Some have even suggested drug use in the town centre will stop them from visiting again in the future.

Sarah Liversidge commented: “Such a shame things have come to this, in what used to be a vibrant town. Spent many a day shopping there and nights out. 

“Don’t even think of going there now. I feel for the locals; something needs to be done.”

Jon Green added: “I’m not from Wrexham, but thought we would try some shopping there two weeks ago, we lasted an hour, couldn’t get out of the place quick enough, loads of people outside McDonald’s taking drugs, shouting, arguing, drinking, giving shoppers abuse, won’t ever go there again.”

Louise Maxine Edwards said: “Don’t think I’d be letting my daughter go into town with her friends at the weekends anymore. I’m done with this town. 

“Already changed my shopping destination, it doesn’t even have a nice feeling when walking 
through. So sad.”

 

'Time we accepted problematic drug use is a health issue'

NORTH Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, says perhaps it is time for a new approach in order to efficiently tackle drug issues in Wrexham.

He said: “We have been trying to arrest our way out of the drugs issue for decades and it hasn’t worked, so a new approach is needed, and this is true of North Wales and of Wrexham in particular.

“It is high time we accepted problematic drug use is a health issue and not a criminal justice matter. We need to recognise substance abuse as a public health crisis, as they did in Portugal 20 years ago, and treat it as such.

The Leader:

Arfon Jones, North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner

“That is why I have been calling for the introduction of a drug consumption room in the town for some time because all the international evidence available shows that drug consumption rooms do not result in higher rates of local drug-related crime and instead can reduce street disorder and encounters with the police and with the public.

“Setting up a drug consumption room where people suffering from problematic drug use can take the drugs themselves safely and hygienically could potentially save lives and would also provide real benefits to the community.

“Fewer discarded needles will ensure safer streets, while more hygienic facilities will reduce the spread of disease like HIV. 

“At the same time, the emergency services will be able to reach more quickly anybody who suffers an overdose, becomes violent while under the influence or pricks themselves accidentally.

“Importantly for the community, a drug consumption room can reduce crime because it will free up police officers to concentrate on serious offences, whilst providing an opportunity to help those taking drugs to address other issues like poverty and homelessness.

“What I have seen in Europe has convinced me that drug consumption rooms would be useful in North Wales where they would give problematic users somewhere secure to go, rather than having to inject in public areas and upsetting people with the state, they are in. 

“They would also be much safer as nobody has ever died in a drug consumption room.”

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