DRUG users have put children at risk by dumping used needles in families’ gardens near a town centre hotspot for anti-social behaviour.
Residents who live near Trinity Churchyard off Church Street have reported a rise in drug use, discarded needles and rowdy drinkers.
Some have even found needles which have been thrown over fences into their gardens where their children play.
Eastlands ward councillor Neil Sandison has held meetings with concerned residents.
He said: “Sometimes we have problems with anti-social drinkers, and other times it’s people leaving used needles. It’s clearly a health risk.
“It’s just in certain locations in the churchyard, particularly where headstones have tilted or fallen over, or the shady areas where there is heavy overgrowth.
“The community wardens and safer neighborhood teams are at full stretch at the moment but I have been assured all incidents reported are being logged and investigated, and harmful substances removed.
“It’s a nice public open space and we want people to enjoy it.”
He said Rugby Borough Council (RBC) was looking at all the options to minimise the impact on neighbouring properties.
He added: “We encourage those whose addiction is out of control to seek professional medical and counselling advice, but we may have to consider tougher action.
“I don’t think it’s something we can solve overnight, but we are working on an action plan with the police.”
Officers from Rugby Police Station have set up a working group with the council, residents, drug and alcohol workers, and churchyard owners The Diocese of Coventry to tackle the problem.
And Sgt Stuart Baker said police patrols would increase to ‘deter and detect’ the culprits.
He said: “This issue has been in existence for a number of years but we see seasonal variations in the number of complaints received by council and police.
“The issues associated with this location are varied and complex, and they cannot be successfully tackled by just one organisation on its own.
“This working group is currently in its infancy but I am optimistic that it will provide some longer-term solutions by problem-solving together.”
A Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) was introduced to the town centre area in 2015, giving the police more power to act against problem drinkers and drug users – with the churchyard highlighted as one of the worst areas.
The PSPO expires this month, and is up for review by RBC in early September.
Residents can report illegal activity by calling police on 101, or 999 in an emergency.
And Coun Sandison urged anyone who comes across used needles to visit www.rugby.gov.uk/reportaproblem and use the council’s ‘report it’ system.