A SUSPECTED drug user left residents outraged after appearing to inject heroin on a main road outside a convenience store.

Pictures show the man was sitting outside Londis store, in London Road, Westcliff, on a bed of a cardboard boxes and sleeping bags while surrounded by drug paraphernalia, including uncovered needles.

The store, which is open 24 hours a day, is widely used, however, rough sleepers and drug and alcohol users regularly sit outside the premises.

Mellissa Salvara called the police at about 8pm on Sunday, January 6 to report what she had seen.

The images of the man have been widely circulated on social media.

In response, Lara Harris posted on Facebook: “It’s disgusting in view of everyone to see even kids and he seems oblivious to the photos being taken. Sits there begging the general public and obviously spends his earnings on this.

“I don’t care what people say or think, heroin use is self-inflicted.”

A member of one of Southend’s organisations which helps the homeless, urged anyone in a similar situation to use some of the agencies which are available such as STARS and NA to get the help.

The helper, who asked to remain anonymous, did, though, add the man in question has been homeless for some time and appears to be happy in his lifestyle.

He said: “I understand the general public’s concerns especially with regards to children potentially having to witness something like this, but it is his personal choice which we wouldn’t want to condemn anyone for that choice.

“We offer shelter to rough sleepers and help with housing but they must engage with us - we don’t allow drug taking in our shelters and addressing drug and alcohol abuse is one of the targets we set to any of our service users.

“We also have outreach teams whose jobs are to patrol the streets to identify vulnerable rough sleepers and we have had success in that recently.”

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “We were called at around 8.35pm on January 6 to reports of someone seen taking drugs in London Road, Westcliff.

“If you have any information please call us on 101 quoting incident 1026 of January 6 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

Londis declined to comment.