Meth and heroin-addled drug addicts have sparked fury in an inner-city Melbourne neighbourhood by shooting up in public, defecating in the street and gathering in large groups despite the city’s strict COVID-19 lockdown rules.
Residents in North Richmond have also reported used syringes being discarded on sidewalks even though the suburb has its own safe injecting room where drug users can shoot up under supervision.
One man who lived near the injecting room said people would gather in large groups throughout the day in public areas in complete disregard for the city’s stage four restrictions.
Another said those injecting in the street appeared to be ‘immune’ to the lockdown and the rules did not apply to them.
A large gathering is pictured outside a safe injecting room in North Richmond in Melbourne’s inner-east. Locals have complained about groups congregating in high numbers outside the facility not wearing masks
Witnesses reported as many as 20 people congregating in a park for a birthday party near the inner-city injecting room
‘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,’ the resident told NCA News Wire.
‘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.’
One photo shared to a local social media group campaigning to have the injecting room moved showed a syringe discarded in a children’s playground.
In a flagrant disregard for lockdown rules preventing no more than two people from gathering outside at once, witnesses reported as many as 20 people congregating in a park for a birthday party.
Complaints about drug users not wearing face masks in North Richmond have become so vocal state Liberal MP Craig Ondarchie has asked for more police to patrol the area.
‘That is unacceptable during this pandemic when so many Victorians are obeying the rules,’ he said in state parliament.
The state government has re-assured residents ‘high-visibility’ patrols are in place to target crime and catch those violating public health laws enforcing the use of face masks.
Pictured: Syringes left discarded in North Richmond. The suburb has its own bespoke safe injecting room where drug users can shoot up under supervision
In June, mother Charlotte Spencer-Roy revealed she regularly found people using drugs in the laneway beside her North Richmond home.
Her nine-year-old son, Angus, was traumatised after discovering a man who had apparently overdosed laying unconscious outside their home just 10 minutes from the injecting room.
‘He said ”mummy, mummy there’s a dead body”,’ Ms Spencer-Roy told Nine News at the time.
Ms Spencer-Roy opened her door as two men scrambled to pick up their drug paraphernalia.
WHAT IS THE NORTH RICHMOND COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTRE?
North Richmond Community Health Centre has a medically supervised injecting room.
It opened in June 2018 for an 18-month trial and has recorded more than 60,000 visits and managed more than 1,800 overdoses without a death.
Before the room was opened staff would attend 59 overdoses a year in carparks and gutters without any notice.
In the first week 400 people went to the room.
A review of the trial was due in June 2020 to help decide of it would continue to operate.
There has been loud public opposition to the centre since it was established.
Locals want it moved to another area as they claim it has created more drug use within the community.
Some claim to have seen heroin users take the drug near schools.
Mother Charlotte Spencer-Roy (pictured right with her son Angus) lives just streets away from the controversial injecting room in North Richmond
Ms Spencer-Roy said she was spat on and threatened by a drug addict (pictured right and left) who had been shooting up outside her home in November
‘Why are you choosing to inject here? This isn’t the injecting room,’ she asked as the pair quickly scurried away.
The men told the furious mother the queues at the Lennox Street injecting room were too long and said it was ‘too far away’.
But Ms Spencer-Roy said the controversial injecting room, which opened in 2018, is just a ten minute walk from her house.
One of the men also told the family he was banned from going into the injecting facility.