Pubdate: Thur, Sept 2 1999
Source: Toronto Star (Canada)
Copyright: 1999, The Toronto Star
Contact:  http://www.thestar.com/
Author: Betsy Powell, Entertainment Reporter

STARBUCKS' NEEDLE BIN RAISES POLICE CONCERN

Toronto police are wondering whether a tiny Starbucks outlet in the
heart of the city's entertainment district is "condoning" intravenous
drug users shooting up on the premises.

Sargeant Kevin Reid yesterday said he's concerned about a plastic
needle disposal bin in the unisex washroom of the coffee shop at Queen
and John Sts.

Downtown's 52 Division plans to investigate.

"They have an obligation to keep track of who goes in and out of their
washrooms," Reid said.

"It could affect their service licence because they're supposed to
take as much precaution as they can to avoid criminal activity on
their premises."

Starbucks employees -- known as partners --mounted the disposal
container inside the washroom after one of the workers found used
needles in the garbage.

The outlet took the step to protect staff from an accidental pricking
which could inflict injury and transmit infectious diseases, said an
employee at the coffee giant's public relations firm.

A Starbucks official could not be reached for comment
yesterday.

A worker at the downtown retailer said the container is there "for the
safety of the staff because of the neighbourhood we're in, people come
in here and shoot up."

He said it was the only Starbucks in the city to adopt the
measure.

The outlet, open until midnight on Friday and Saturday, is located
across the street from MuchMusic and near dozens of dance bars and
after-hour clubs.

Shaun Hopkins, manager of the public health department's Injection
Drug Program, said Starbucks is doing the right thing.

"It can be seen as a harm-reduction strategy."

The city put similar containers in some parks and recreation buildings
a while ago "so that if somebody found a needle in the park, they
could put it in this container," she said.

"It's like a drop box, so it's secure, nobody can get their hand in
from the outside."

Parks and recreation staff then empty the containers.

Hopkins said she's unaware of any other private companies using the
containers. 

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