Question: How does King’s Cross retain its reputation as the drugs capital of London? Answer: Start a new needle exchange clinic there!


According to an article just published in the Islington Tribune and reported to the Bulletin Board by Sean Murray, Camden officials have decided that the best place to open "a new super-clinic and needle exchange" will be at 264 Pentonville Road (see circle on above map).

Given that King's Cross continues to struggle to cast off its reputation for drugs and prostitutes, making it a "destination location" for drug users doesn't seem like a brilliant idea.  Given the need to integrate communities, I think it would be much better to locate it right in the centre of Hampstead!

If you want to comment on this, you'd better attend the meeting that will be taking place at the Camden Centre (Download Location of Camden Centre) from 6 PM on 29 September.

This neighbourhood can go either way and many new residents have been attracted to the are in the hope of continued IMPROVEMENT.  The following is a photo just taken by one of our neighbours along York Way…



The pic attached illustrates the concern we have and that these are escalting in York Way, Caledonia St and outside the station.

The guy in the pic is about a p*** up the wall at 08:00 this morning (17 Sept). The situation was the same yesterday.



If you too have noticed changes in the area of this nature, maybe you should register your comments here in the hope that our elected officials can sense the tone of the residents.


Just received another pix (17 Sept, 1300) that futher illustrates the growing problem.









I thought we had a "controlled drinking zone" – apparently someone forgot to tell these folks.

Taken 3 PM on 18 Sept

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26 Responses to Question: How does King’s Cross retain its reputation as the drugs capital of London? Answer: Start a new needle exchange clinic there!

  1. Andrew says:

    If I am not mistaken, this is actually in Islington (being the north side of P Road). How can Camden decide to put this in Islington?

  2. Sean Murray says:

    Thanks for posting this Stephan, I guess this is really just another example of one step forward and one back for KX and how much of what we do to regenerate KX is trumped by short-sighted decisions.

    If there was a genuine coordinated plan to ensure KX becomes a great place to live, work and play, then the very poor legacy image of where are now, must be taken into account – perception is all.

    It is shocking that Camden believes this is appropriate for a main road. A main road that should be a shopping and eating mixed use area linking the transport interchange and the emerging work / office areas further east along Pentonville Rd.

    The concentration of people with housing concerns, alcohol or drug dependency is obvious in KX right now. Can we take any more?

    Holborn residents successfully stopped the clinic in their neighbourhood.
    If I were cynical, I would think Camden have located to a place where they believe people don’t care. Well Camden, we do.

  3. Sophie Talbot says:

    This is fantastic news. King’s Cross is possibly the single most ideal place in London to site a needle exchange, something I’ve wanted to see here for many, many years. Drug users are people too and need very particular services to lessen the risks involved with each specific addiction, along with holistic support to assist moves away from those addictions as quickly as that can be achieved given individual life circumstances. I applaud this move wholeheartedly and hope to be one of the first to volunteer there should there be an opportunity for me to actively participate in this entirely positive initiative. At last, a positive approach rather than the traditional urge to shift the problem on as has happened with our sex workers.

  4. Sophie Talbot says:

    interesting that the original article was substantially amended at the same time as my comment was approved by the writer for posting. Seems a little unreasonable to take the upper hand when the content is controversial! šŸ˜‰

  5. Paul Convery says:

    I think this is a very risky move on the part of Camden. I wish they had spoken to us before going public. It’s exactly why we had begun to talk with Camden about joint decision-taking on community safety, planning and public realm matters in Kings Cross. And, even more recently the two Boroughs have begun to actively explore the proposal to have “shared services” and a joint Chief Executive. So, this isn’t a great start.

    The building at 294 Pentonville Road (next door to the Nat West branch) is not a good location. It’s true that interventions such as needle exchanges are best delivered in community-based health facilities and it’s also true that some of the heroin-addicted patients may live nearby. But Kings Cross is a location that is recovering from decades of vice-related activity and that recovery is still quite fragile. Putting a needle exchange into our commmunity is a retrogressive step.

  6. Paul Convery says:

    I should also have added, that this facility is already operating and has done so since February this year. The proposal is to make this temporary arrangement permanent.

    The service operates alongside some other healthcare delivered from this location – mental health services and a general practitioner type of service for homeless people. Camden says that, before they temporarily located the service at 294 Pentonville, they “involved the community in the development and design of this service through a stakeholder liaison group and resident representatives on the commissioning panel.” I have to say that local Councillors have no knowledge about this and no idea who the “stakeholders” or residents they involved were.

  7. Joe fd says:

    Hear hear @Sophie. Pls no more nimbyism unless you can say where else would be appropriate. Or maybe stephan you think drug addicts should be left to infect themselves and commit crimes without any treatment or places of safety.

  8. Tobias Newland says:

    When drug users were consulted on where they prefer a drugs treatment to be, there was a consensus amongst them that the one place they didn’t want the drugs treatment centre to be was in Kings Cross. Residents 1 Drug Users 0.

  9. Sean Murray says:

    Hello Sophie,

    I am sure the merits of this treatment centre are sound and proven. I am no expert.

    The concern is what impact this will have on area already defined by drugs, crime and prostitution. For me, a good regeneration strategy is one which achieves a balance for all sections of the community. Take a walk along this stretch of road, is this really the most suitable place given the challenge this part of KX will face in the shadow of King’s Cross central? Or is it simply a site that’s available.

    A drug treatment centre in an already low quality area will simply continue the negative trend.

    Like Andrew, I think 264 is on the Islington side of the road – nice one Camden!

    Maybe, and I really hope so, we will have re-assurance from Camden that
    there will be no negative impact…


  10. stephan says:


    Yes, the posting was updated with the pix and the comments of one of our locals who brought the matter to my attention to begin with. I’ve also added a call for further comments.

    All comments received whether pro or con have been posted so I do not feel that I have taken advantage in any way.

  11. stephan says:

    Joe fd,

    I do understand your position and have suggested an alternative location – the leafy area of Hampstead. However you know quite well, those residents would scream even louder.

    Let’s not compound and existing problem (drug taking) by scraficing neighbourhood regeneration.

    If you are speaking for those with the drug problems, I’m speaking for the local residents who want to live in a better envionment.

    Maybe a better solution is to have every clinic and surgery in both Islington and Camden be required to treat a set number of drug users…thus spreading treatment out over the entire residential population favouring NO ONE!

  12. Sophie Talbot says:

    Ah now Stephan, am liking the last para of your last comment! I’m keen that the changes happening here benefit everybody – from the sex worker to the city fringe dandy, the addict on the street to the penthouse dwelling artist. Am enjoying the valuable debate on such a key issue for us in KX, many thanks for raising it.

  13. Andrew says:

    I am in favour of mixed development, mixed communities etc. etc. But the main feature of a mixed community is the “mixed” bit. The trouble with King’s Cross is that it has to deal with more than its fair share.

    I am getting sick of feeling threatened in my own neighbourhood. Four weeks ago I walked out my front door, with my sister in law and my two year old daughter to be threatened (“…I am going to cut you up….”), and two weeks ago someone ran across the pavement to try to punch me. Both were completed unprovoked, both were reported to police (who were fantastic about it). On the second occasion the person was arrested and sectioned under the mental health act.

    I fear King’s Cross is on a downward spiral.

  14. Andrew says:

    And I agree with Stephan – every clinic and surgery in both Islington and Camden being required to treat.

  15. Aron Cronin says:

    Four points:
    – what has the experience been since February, has there been any formal evaluation?
    – if at KX then surely a police patrol rota can be introduced around opening times for assurance of public safety
    – the subject is needle exchange not clinical treatment, it is not part of general practice
    – could Andrew or Stephan please explain why if these people are so undesirable on the streets of KX they are perfectly acceptable spread amongst the waiting rooms of GPs surgeries along with mothers with young children, the elderly, etc?

  16. stephan says:


    The optimum word you have used is “spread.” King’s Cross is desperately trying to shed its reputation as a center for drug takers and prostitutes. We do not need any institution being located here that will draw more drug users to the area – thus reinforcing that reputation. If you “spread” the locations where drug users can get these types of services around to all nearby areas any perception of a problem is diffused. I’m not arguing against treatment, I’m arguing on the logic of not undermining the concept of “re-generation” when alternative solutions are possible with no cost differential.

  17. Sophie Talbot says:

    Good points Aaron. I’d like to hear from practitioners in support for drug users and from drug users themselves as to what would work best…

  18. Aron Cronin says:

    We are at one with regard to raising the standing of the area but with respect you are ducking the question – why should this service be medicalised and hosted in general practices?

    By the way it is Aron – my wisdom may be biblical but not my name!

  19. Stephan says:


    Oops, sorry about the spelling.

    Maybe I’m mistaken, but when we hear about a drug-“clinic” or consider drug problems we ARE talking about “medical” as well as social issues. I would also imagine that in addition to dispensing new needles, this “clinic” (the article’s word not mine), will also be dispensing methadone. All this leads me to believe that “medical” people WILL be involved. I’m simply saying don’t concentrate the treatment spread it around.

  20. Paul Convery says:

    Here’s part of a reply I received from Camden’s Drug and Alcohol Team Manager:

    “The location of the service is in a very busy thoroughfare with constant vehicle and pedestrian traffic. The fact that the service “has many hundreds of homes within a few minutes walking distance” does not mean that those residents will be negatively impacted by the service and there have been no complaints received regarding the operation of the service. We have very strict processes in place to ensure that the operation of such a service will have minimal impact on local communities and the requirement to manage the service and its environs forms part of the contract with the service provider. There are also strong working relationships with other services such as the police, street wardens and the Safer Streets Team to manage the area

    “You state “If the drug treatment services on offer are ones that successfully help people to quit using heroin, I would be a lot more comfortable” and this is exactly what the treatment service does. It offers a range of treatment options and the ultimate aim is to help people “quit” using heroin. As I am sure every one appreciates this takes time and the journey would include stopping drug related offending as part of the process.

    “The service at 264 is managed by Crime Reduction Initiatives (CRI) who have an excellent track record of running similar services right across England. Some of the services that will be offered from the site include open access and information, access and referral services, one-to-one support, group work and complementary therapies. You can get more information about CRI from their website CRI also run our Safer Streets Team and so have well established relationships to manage the street populations that require support in Camden.”

  21. Stephan says:


    I’m afraid these people just don’t get it. It’s not what they do, it’s where they do it. King’s Cross continues to be perceived as a place that habours drug users and hookers, in spite of the fact that hundreds of thousands of pounds has been spent by the government to regenerate the area and draw in new business and residents. What does this message send out? Let’s continue to send the drug users to King’s Cross! If they don’t pose a problem for all our good neighbours, why not open a clinic in Hampstead or Highgate. We all know the answer to that…no way would that ever happen. Also as I pointed out, if drug users are not problematic, why not make it a requirement to treat them locally in local surguries. In this way, no one would be overburdened with any problem as it would be shared equally across the boroughs.

  22. Sean Murray says:

    I hope we all want people with drug and alcohol dependency to get the best possible treatment, that’s in everyone’s interest. The nature of the treatment will always be up for debate – even among the professionals.

    The issue here, as Stephan points out, is the location. If the unit will not impact on the community, why is not sited somewhere that is not desperately trying to rid itself of a drug, crime and prostitution reputation.

    What we need is leadership from the council on initiatives that challenge people’s perceptions of KX, NOT re-enforce the negatives.

    And why is a Camden councillor making the case for locating this unit in Islington?

  23. NC says:

    If people are concerned about needle exchanges maybe they should notice that most pharmacies also carry out this service. Look for the green and red arrow signs on the doors. There are needle exchanges allm over Camden & Islington

  24. Andrew says:

    Does anyone know if this needle exchange clinic ever opened?

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