Father infuriated after evidence of drug use at Saffron Walden children's park

PUBLISHED: 09:19 04 March 2016 | UPDATED: 09:19 04 March 2016

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A Saffron Walden resident says he is appalled after finding drug paraphernalia at one of the town's play parks while out with his four-year-old daughter.

Simon Etchells, 47, of Little Walden Road, says he visited the town council managed play area at the Anglo American Memorial Playing Fields in Catons Lane on February 27.

While taking his daughter on the play equipment, Mr Etchells found laughing gas canisters and numerous bottles of half drunken alcohol among broken glass debris, which was all over the grass and benches.

Mr Etchells said: “This is becoming an increasing problem in the town’s communal play areas, and I have spoken to a lot of parents who have had similar experiences.

“Broken glass is bad enough, but what appalled me most was the discarded drug paraphernalia. I’m educated enough to what know that stuff is, but I had to explain to my daughter what the items were as I removed them.

“Clearly there is absolute disrespect for the community and a real lack of police presence in the area. There is CCTV at Bridge End Gardens but none in our town’s play parks. How can that be right?

“Do parents know where their children are or what they are doing, or more importantly, do they even care?”

Mr Etchells said that he did not report the incident to the police.

Lisa Courtney, Saffron Walden town clerk, said: “We were not aware of the incident but will be investigating immediately. Drug paraphernalia and broken glass in our town’s play parks are clearly not acceptable and we take such matters very seriously.”

Laughing gas, or nitrous oxide, is the UK’s second most used recreational drug and more than 400,000 16 to 24-year-olds reported taking it last year.

In most cases, the gas is inhaled from a balloon to experience a short period of euphoria, but drug campaigners warn that there is a risk of death through a lack of oxygen, especially when using substantial amounts.

It is legal to possess nitrous oxide in England and Wales, but those selling to under 18s can be prosecuted.

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