Baby-change units 'harbour cocaine'
Published 19/12/2011 | 06:52
More than nine in 10 baby-changing units in the North West have tested positive for traces of cocaine.
The tests, carried out by using specialist wipes, found that 92% of the 100-plus units examined carried traces of the Class A substance.
They included facilities based in public toilets in shopping centres, hospitals, police stations, courts and churches.
The team of Real Radio journalists who carried out the study also tested baby-changing facilities in supermarkets and department stores.
Cocaine abuse is thought to be on the rise in the region.
A former cocaine addict named only as Kerry has been interviewed by the radio station as part of its Cocaine Unwrapped investigation. The 29-year-old told the programme: "The relationship between me and my son wouldn't even come anywhere close to what I had with cocaine. Me and cocaine, it was the number one bond. That was my kid; cocaine was my child.
"My friends, my family tried to help me but I wouldn't listen to anyone. Even my son used to beg me, crying, 'mummy don't go out, please don't go out mummy', but if I could get money for coke I'd get it. Coke came first, my child came second."
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham told Real Radio: "The damage that cocaine causes to young people's health and their life choices are enormous. I have seen people fall by the wayside that have misused drugs and you have to get the message across that this is something that is incredibly damaging to their lives.
"We're looking at hundreds of police disappearing from our communities. It terrifies me because it's not just the activities of those selling on our streets, it's all the inquisitive crime that goes with these very addictive substances and the affect that has on the community."
Last month the UK was named the cocaine capital of Europe. It is the second year running that Britons have taken more than neighbouring countries, with 4.8% estimated to have used it over the last year.