Heroin needles in the streets - is open drug taking a 'public health crisis'?

ITV News found dozens of exposed, used needles in one Manchester park. Credit: ITV News

From discarded needles to human faeces littering city parks and alleyways - there are increasingly visible signs across Manchester of a growing number of people caught in the grip of heroin addiction.

ITV News spent an hour filming in Angel Meadow in the city centre - where we found used needles, cooking spoons, and other forms of drug related litter.

Here's a sample of what we found:

Volunteers who work to keep the park looking its best told us they are finding drugs paraphernalia on a "literally daily" basis.

Needles, syringes and wraps found in a Manchester park. Credit: ITV News

And it's not just in this park.

Figures obtained by ITV News shows that the number of used needles being reported abandoned in public places across the city has more than tripled over the past five years.

A cooking spoon and other drugs paraphernalia. Credit: ITV News

More needles means more potential health hazards - and any drugs litter should only be removed by a trained professional and using specialist equipment.

There are an estimated 4000 adults in Manchester who are dependent on heroin and/or crack cocaine. Credit: ITV News

The greatest health risk is to those who are actually using the drug.

The city's heroin addicts are injecting in dirty alleyways or muddy corners of parks and fields. They're impossible spaces to sterilise.

Addicts who are also homeless might also struggle to keep clean - and injecting through dirty skin brings risks of infection.

Injecting in public spaces brings an increased risk of infection. Credit: ITV News

We spoke to two long term users who told us they've nearly lost limbs to Septicaemia and Hepatitis - as a result of injecting in dirty places.

But both say they're careful to always take used needles away with them - and urge others to do the same.

Exposed needles should only be removed by those with training and proper equipment. Credit: ITV News

Manchester City Council will treat all reports of sharps in public "as a matter of the highest urgency".

However high clear up costs rise, leaving needles unattended is simply not an option.

You can watch Lise McNally's report in full below:

Part Two in our series looks at possible solutions to public drug taking, and will air on Granada Reports on July 27.