STAFF are being abused going to work, stepping over sleeping bodies and picking up dirty needles in Glasgow city centre, business owners have warned.

A group formed to highlight a rise in criminal and anti-social behaviour has demanded action from the police, council and government.

A meeting of the Glasgow Action Group, led by James Mortimer, owner of Rogano, One Up and Club 29 in Royal Exchange Square, heard examples they said are a daily occurrence.

They fear that the problem is driving people out of the city centre and affecting trade in bars and restaurants.

He was joined by Kevin McGuire, owner of Metropolitan Bar, who said a similar problem exists in the Merchant City.

Mr Mortimer said: “Staff have to step over bodies in the morning. There are needles lying around. They are terrified with these people running in and out. They are lying on mattresses sleeping during the day and jagging themselves up.”

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He said his staff put on gloves to remove needles themselves.

The business owner said his wife has also been verbally abused going into the Rogano.

He said he wants to help people who are homeless and have a drug or drink addiction but wants action taken on the criminal behaviour of those who are begging.

Staff told of regular incidents involving people who gather in the Royal Exchange Square area.

One woman said: “I’ve had to hold doors closed to stop them coming in. I don’t know how many overdoses I’ve seen. I have worked here four years and this is the worst it’s been.”

In the courtyard behind Royal Exchange Square at 11 am there was two syringes, several piles of empty Stella and Tennent’s lager cans and Buckfast bottles and an overwhelming stench of urine.

One staff member said: “Every morning there are people sleeping here, there are needles all the time”.

Other business owners told of similar problems in different parts of the city centre.

Kevin McGuire of Metropolitan in the Merchant City said: “There are people who are genuinely homeless, but there are others, because I see them, who are just collecting money.

“I’m not against anyone who has to beg.” But added: “How many are out there because they want to be or how many because they have no alternative?”

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Donald MacLeod, owner of the Garage and Cathouse clubs, said some beggars are not what they seem.

He said: “Community Safety Glasgow identified there are people out there who make £300 to £400 a day. They have homes and they have a bank account.

“The issue is separating the vulnerable from those on the make.”

The group showed pictures of people passed out on drugs and of needles left lying around. One appears to show someone taking drugs.

Jim McBride of Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership said the agencies were dealing with a surge in the problem.

He said: “We are trying to separate those where it is about vulnerability and a need and those where it is anti-social behavior.

“There is not one button we can press.”

He appeared to confirm the belief that not all beggars are homeless.

He said: “The number of people who are sleeping rough is small compared to the number who are begging.”

Mr McBride told the meeting the drug problem has not got worse – it has just become more visible.

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said on top of the other challenges facing the city centre from out of town shopping centres and internet shopping, anti-social behaviour was not helpful.

He said: “A survey from 2016 showed 30 per cent of business said were suffering from begging anti-social behaviour where it has had an impact on their business.

“It’s a substantial number.

He said he believed that city politicians were actively seeking solutions but added: “There is a massive challenge in the abuse of drugs.

“We have not got all the service in place.”