CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Drug addicts need a ‘shooting gallery’, say under siege tenants

'It’s got so bad. Is it going to take a kid to pick up a needle before something is done about it?'

07 September, 2017 — By Tom Foot

Thomas Looney with daughter Isabelle

DAYTIME hard drug taking and open prostitution have become rife on an estate in Somers Town, families have warned.

Residents in Churchway say children as young as four are worrying about “crackheads” breaking into their homes. They want new gates to be installed, while the suggestion of a “shooting gallery” to be set up in one of Camden’s empty buildings elsewhere, for the addicts to take their drugs legally, has been made.

Thomas Looney, 31, said: “It’s become a joke. They are literally injecting, during the day. There is prostitution at night. It’s got so bad. Is it going to take a kid to pick up a needle before something is done about it? When I go and get my daughter’s bike out of the shed, you just don’t know what’s going to be there.”

Mr Looney, who works in sports development and runs a youth team in Kentish Town, added: “I haven’t got a problem with them doing it, or even sleeping there at night. Everyone needs a place to go. They are people after all, but there are kids here, and it’s affecting them. You come home most nights and there are loads of these orange caps around, from the syringes. They’ve got a sharps pot down there – but we just feel it’s not really the place for it.”

Church­way residents told the New Journal they would like to see an empty building in Camden used as a “shooting gallery” where addicts could go and inject drugs safely. Mr Looney suggested the problem had been pushed away from newly modernised areas of King’s Cross and Euston, where huge organisations like Google and Camden Council have new offices and security teams patrol.

Another resident, who did not want to be named, said: “Just now I’ve poured out a mop bucket onto them, but there’s only so many buckets you can pour out. Something has got to be done. We are polite to them a lot of the time, we aren’t terrible people – but it’s getting too close to our homes.” Others said there was an “abnormal normality” to the estate.

A council press official said: “The Community Safety Service will work with local residents and the police to respond to these concerns and to look at ways of making the location safer. If residents from the Churchway estate have any information about drug dealing or need to report a crime we would urge them to contact the police in the first instance. “We would also ask residents to contact the council to report any anti-social behaviour on 0207 974 4444 or the council’s Safer Streets Team on 020 783 3790 for any incidents of rough sleeping, sex working and related anti-social behaviour.”

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