Drug users ‘urinating, defecating and leaving needles at church’

Left, the church, and Rev Jeremy Auld outside the entrance that has been blocked off.

Part of a Dundee cathedral has been sealed off in a last-ditch bid to stop drug users defecating and urinating on the premises.

As well as human waste, items including used needles and empty legal high packets have been found by Reverend Jeremy Auld, who is the Provost of St Paul’s Cathedral on the High Street.

It comes just days after the Tele revealed photographs of two suspected drug users “comatose” on a bench at a children’s playpark.

The images, which were taken just off Crescent Street in Stobswell on Wednesday, provoked a huge response from readers shocked to see such behaviour in public view.
Rev Auld has done his bit to help accommodate the homeless and drug addicts for years.

They have been allowed to sleep in the porch of the cathedral’s bell tower, while also being provided with regular hot food and drinks.

But now Rev Auld has had a change of heart.

He has regretfully had to install a padlocked fence at the entrance of the porch to stop people abusing the church’s hospitality as it is scaring people from attending the cathedral.

Rev Auld said: “I’ve been here at the cathedral for six-and-a-half years and my philosophy has been, if people want to take shelter under our bell tower and sleep there, they are welcome to do that.

“It’s part of Christian hospitality that we provide that space if they need it. We will bend over backwards to help them by giving them a cup of tea, a bacon roll or a hot coffee and a bit of cake on a Sunday.

“However, we’ve had to close off that area and put a temporary fence up because this new group of people has been abusing it.

“We have tried to be kind and generous to them but they are urinating, defecating, leaving packets of legal highs and used needles.

“Unfortunately, it has affected members of our congregation on a Sunday coming out to see that and feeling intimidated.”

Rev Auld said it was a hard decision to cordon off the porch that had helped give vulnerable people a roof over their heads but he hopes to re-open it again when the message has got through.

He said: “It’s with huge regret that I’ve taken this decision but we needed to draw a line in the sand and get the message out that this is not acceptable.

“Despite all this, we’ve had dozens of people sleeping there in the past who have been just delightful. There was one person who we got clothing for so he could go to a job interview and he got it — we want to continue to doing things like that.”

Jennifer Mcartney, who took photographic evidence of the two men passed out on the bench next to Wallacetown Nursery School, had sympathy with Rev Auld.

She said: “It’s disgusting that they are doing that. The man is trying to help them and they are just throwing it back in his face.

“I think the drug problem in Dundee is getting worse. Those guys sitting on the bench was the worst thing I’ve seen but it’s not the first time I’ve walked past somebody and had to ask if they are OK.

“There’s so many people struggling and there doesn’t seem to be anywhere for them to go.

“I would love these people to get the help they need — or even if they could just be taken off the streets for a few days.

“I don’t think some people realise the effect it has on children. On Friday, my niece was about to walk through to park to get to nursery and she said she didn’t want to go because of what she saw that day.”

Rev Auld added: “I don’t think prison is the answer. I think it’s all about putting structures in place that supports drug users.

“I’m aware of people in the past going to jail and when they come out they’re back on the streets with no support again.”