Shropshire Star

Helping addicts 'KO'd in street': Reporter's brush with sad reality of troubled Shrewsbury centre

The stark reality of addiction in Shrewsbury town centre was brought into focus for Shropshire Star reporter Nick Humphreys when he felt he had to call 999 after seeing two men passed out, surrounded by cans of drink.

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Darwin's Gate, Mardol. Picture: Mark Booth

Here he discusses the incident on Thursday night, as well as the blight of shoplifters, fighting, drug-taking and other anti-social behaviour (ASB) on our streets.

I was in Shrewsbury town centre. I had a few more stories to finish writing before going off on annual leave for a few days and wanted a change of scene from my sweltering hot flat.

On my way I was passing the Darwin’s Gate statue in Mardol and there were two men KO’d on the floor surrounded by cans and bottles of drink. They had big bags with them, suggesting they were probably rough sleepers.

My instant reaction to seeing someone who looks like a 'typical' town centre drink or drug addict would be to steer clear, but for all I knew they could have been dead or medically in a very serious way. So I phoned 999 and tried to wake these guys up.

Star reporter Nick Humphreys

The call handler was asking stuff to find out more information - if I could tell if they were breathing, if I could get them to say their names. They were breathing, but they couldn’t say their names, they were just mumbling. They were probably intoxicated thanks to a mixture of spice and cider. But to be fair, I thought, well at least they’re not dead.

The call handler wanted to know if they had certain medical conditions like diabetes. I asked the one lad, who was still lying on his side. He couldn’t really respond. I asked the other who just said: “I’m not getting in no effing ambulance”. He got up and started shouting a load of other profanities but he was still too intoxicated to get near me.

Two of their pals turned up, a woman and a man. The woman gave them water to try to bring them round but as soon as the two lads managed to sit themselves upright, they ditched the water and started back on the cider.

It was at that point the call handler could overhear there was a level of aggression from the group and the two men were being brought round, so recommended I leave. Thankfully there were another couple of lads passing by who kept an eye on things when it was escalating so I wasn’t on my own, so thank you very much to them.

It was weird, I felt like... did I do the wrong thing? Should I have just left them? Should I have just given them a good shake and tried to get water down them rather than pester the ambulance service? I don’t know.