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Human waste, syringes spark virus fears

1 month ago 23

Furious residents living near Melbourne’s safe injecting room say roaming drug users are gathering en masse without face masks, defecating in side streets and leaving used syringes outside homes.

Mark Soffer, who lives 400m from the medically supervised injecting room in North Richmond, said locals were “too scared” to go outside for their one hour of permitted lockdown exercise.

“Just crowds of people hanging in and around the neighbourhood all the way down Lennox St. It’s a congregation … any time of the day every day you’ll find complete negligence in this area,” he told NCA NewsWire.

“My wife is a doctor and fighting on the front line only to come home every day and deal with people who just don’t care about the good fight we’re all trying to fight.”

Jono Lowe expressed concern at what appeared to be sanitary wipes covering an Australia Post letterbox on Elizabeth St, while Stella Fitzpatrick was called over to celebrate a birthday in the Butler St carpark just days after Melbourne went into stage 4 lockdown.

“Today around 15-20 people congregated in Butler St park celebrating a birthday,” she said.

“Happy birthday was sung, and the BBQ was soon to be fired up. Chips, Cheezels and chocolate decorated the tables for all to have. Many loafs of bread were put on the tables in preparation for the big gig. One of the ladies yelled out across the street, ‘Come on over, it‘s (person’s name) birthday’. There’s plenty of chocolate and drinks here to share.”

Resident James Hyeoksu Bae said users of the injecting room appeared to be “immune to lockdown laws”, and he wanted a greater police presence in the area.

“The rules just don’t seem to apply to them,” he said.

“We’re in a stage 4 lockdown and they act as if nothing is happening – they could be the ones spreading the virus for all we know.

“We’ve seen syringes and human faeces in the streets. Children live around here, it’s disgraceful – we’re supposed to be minimising the risk of spreading disease.”

In parliament state Liberal MP for Northern Metropolitan Region Craig Ondarchie called on the Government to ramp up police patrols throughout North Richmond.

“Residents living near the drug injecting room are furious drug users are ignoring the lockdown rules and refusing to wear face masks. That is unacceptable during this pandemic when so many Victorians are obeying the rules,” he said.

“Can the minister advise me so I can advise my residents the Government will commit to extra police patrols in the streets around the Melbourne safe injecting room to protect my constituents from the anti-social behaviour and drug use so residents can have safer and cleaner streets to live in.”

But the State Government assured there was a focus on patrolling North Richmond streets.

“Victoria Police activity in the vicinity of the North Richmond Medically Supervised Injecting Centre includes high visibility patrols and targeted operations to ensure community safety, target crime and address anti-social behaviour,” a government spokesperson said.

“Victoria Police is also supporting the Department of Health and Human Services by enforcing the chief health officer’s directives – including mandatory face coverings – in this area.

“In addition, Operation Sentinel has been, and will continue to be, tasked to this area. Operation Sentinel comprises a squad of 750 police officers with the aim of ensuring all containment measures to combat coronavirus are followed.”

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