POLICE are stepping up patrols and a school is on alert after needles and syringes were found at Uplyme Cemetery, just metres from the primary school.
Villagers expressed their shock as drug paraphernalia, often associated with heroin use, has been found at two locations in Uplyme over the past few weeks.
There are concerns regarding the location where the needles were found, as the cemetery is opposite Mrs Ethelston's School and many of the children have to walk past the cemetery to get to and from school.
It is also open 24 hours a day and is used by dog walkers, plus people visiting relatives' graves.
Paulene Frost, a member of the Mrs Ethelston's school trust, said: ““It is a worry for the children because they have to walk past the cemetery to get to school, and it would be a worry if they were to see it. It is not right for anybody to see, whether they are a child or adult.”
“I am very shocked because in my experience of being around the area in the past 11 or 12 years I cannot recollect anything like this happening around the village.”
There needles were found by gardener Simon Flux at the cemetery, when he was working there for Uplyme Parish Council.
Mr Flux said: “It's not a very pleasant thing to come across for anyone. There were three needles and syringes lying on the floor, and loads of thoughts race through your mind.
“You don't know who's been using them, what's on them, worrying about diseases and viruses such as HIV.
“They were quite clear in the opening, they were very visible to see, it's not like they had been hidden, but I put on some gloves and disposed of them in the correct manner.”
Uplyme Parish Clerk Lois Wakeman also found cans of alcohol, syringes and packets of ascorbic acid at the lay-by at the top of Gore Lane.
She said: “We are quite concerned because the cemetery is open 24 hours a day and is used by the children who are making their way to school, and by people who walk their dogs through the cemetery. This is obviously very dangerous.
“This is the first time we have been aware of the needles and syringes being found. There were a couple of syringes and packs of ascorbic acid, which is consistent with heroin abuse.
“Thankfully the gardener safely disposed of them straight away.”
PCSO Amanda Wooster from Axminster Police confirmed the police would be stepping up patrols in the area.
PCSO Wooster said: “Since it was reported to us, we have been checking the areas on a regular basis. We don't get too much of these things in Uplyme so it is a bit strange.
“If other people do notice similar objects on the floor they should contact the police who can arrange with the local authority the removal of the items.
“If anyone has any idea of who it might be they can let us know by calling us in confidence on 101.”