Argyll and Bute Council has published official online guidance for the first time on what to do if you discover a discarded needle – after the Advertiser pointed out a lack of vital safety information.

We contacted the authority after a reader got in touch to report that children taking part in a beach clean in Helensburgh had found four syringes on the shore.

Ashley Rogers from the 4th Helensburgh Cubs and Scouts called for better public awareness of how to deal with discarded needles after the discovery.

A quick web search by the Advertiser found that while several councils across Scotland – Glasgow, Edinburgh, South Lanarkshire and Fife among them – publish official guidance on their websites on what people should do if they find a needle, there was no information at all on Argyll and Bute’s official page.

Happily, those taking part in the Cubs and Scouts’ clean-up were well prepared and knew exactly how to deal with their finds.

Ashley told the Advertiser: “The syringes were found in different spots higher up on the beach on the stretch between the steps opposite the Tesco garage along towards where the small path runs up beside Autopoint.

“The children had all been warned about keeping an eye out for sharp objects such as broken glass or syringes and this was reiterated when the first one was discovered.

“Adults were helping and used gloves and litter pickers to put the syringes into an empty bottle, one of the adults took the rubbish and the container away for the appropriate disposal following the beach clean.”

The children took part in the clean-up voluntarily as they work towards their ‘environmental conservation’ activity badge.

“The children are all keen to do another beach clean,” Ashley added, “but I do think better awareness of what to look out for and what to do if a syringe is found is a must if the community is being encouraged to do these activities.

“The Cubs and Scouts were assisted by a team of adults who knew what to do in this instance but if the local community is being encouraged to look after common areas such as the beach then the risks really need to be highlighted.

“Apart from anything else, it’s not just people cleaning the beach that are at risk, children playing, dog walkers and their pets are also at risk here.”

After asking what the council’s position was and why the authority had published no safety guidance on the issue, a spokeswoman said: “The following information has been added to our website.

“Do not handle the discarded needle. Identify whether it is in an area frequented by children. If so, appoint a responsible person to guard the area until the needle is properly dealt with. Contact the council on 01546 605522 for safe removal.”