Drugs kits strewn across Belfast city centre car park
A woman who discovered drugs paraphernalia in a Belfast city centre car park has spoken of her concerns for shoppers' safety.
Julie Blair found around 20 needles, some of which appeared to be used, as well as other drug taking gear in a car park just off Gresham Street, near CastleCourt, on Tuesday afternoon.
She waited by the needles and contacted the council, but said it refused to remove them because they were on private ground.
Ms Blair was visiting a friend who runs a business near the shopping centre and noticed the material as she passed through the car park.
"There was a bag of rubbish with papers in it," she said. "Then I saw needles and syringes. Some were with their plastic protective cap. Some of the needles were lying loose. There were around 20 needles in total. With that amount I realised it wouldn't have been someone who was diabetic.
"Then I noticed it was drugs paraphernalia, with boxes of matches and cotton wool."
Ms Blair, who found the material at around 4pm, said she was concerned at what would have happened had children out shopping with parents lifted the syringes.
"It was very obvious where it was," she said. "It was quite central in the car park.
"I should have lifted it, but with syringes I thought it might have been dangerous."
Ms Blair said she alerted the car park attendant, who was unable to leave his post but had contacted a superior.
Upon contacting Belfast City Council she said it initially told her it was having computer problems and may have difficulty in contacting the cleansing department. She said the council rang back shortly afterwards and explained that as the material was found on private land, it wouldn't intervene.
"I said I would stand there to keep people away," said Ms Blair.
"I said I know it is not your problem, but there is a bigger picture here.
"This is a public area, people cut through this car park. Someone should have been able to lift it. This is a very serious incident.
"We don't want anyone walking through that."
She said shopkeepers in the area and people living nearby were concerned at the level of both legal highs and illegal drug use in the Smithfield area.
"There are many problems with legal highs and I know there is going to be a change in the law," she said. "I think the drugs are getting out of hand.
"We see these wee 'stoners' running about. On one occasion a girl had to be taken away by ambulance. She ran out of the ambulance and they were running up the street after her. It is getting worse."
Ms Blair hopes that there will be now be a greater awareness of the problem among both police and council.
A spokesman for Belfast City Council confirmed the matter was reported to the council but it believed no further action was required as the landowner had been informed.