NINE-YEAR-OLD Jake McGowan's mother took him to McDonald's for a Happy Meal as a final summer holiday treat.

But their trip to the restaurant in Canal Walk, Swindon, turned sour when Jake found a dirty syringe in the toilets.

His mother Michelle was horrified and says McDonald's staff were less than helpful.

Police say they are working to ensure drug users hand over their old needles when they get new ones.

"My son picked up the needle and he shouldn't have, but all the staff said was he shouldn't have done that, you'll have to take him to hospital'," Michelle said.

"I think the people who left it there are scum. I know there are some really sad stories for why people do drugs and I sympathise with them.

"But to go to a children's restaurant and leave a syringe in the toilets is just disgusting."

Michelle, of Wootton Bassett, had popped into town with Jake and her six-year-old daughter Skye on Wednesday morning.

"We just went to get last minute school things and going to McDonald's was a treat," Michelle said.

"The only reason adults go to McDonald's is for the children. Now it seems you can't even go there without syringes being left around."

"Jake came back from the toilet and said he had found a needle."

"I asked him if he had touched it and he said yes, but it had only been the handle end.

"It was a shock to hear it and my first thought was to go to the manager.

"When he told me my son shouldn't have touched it, I was really offended. There was no thought for his welfare."

Michelle took Jake to a nearby chemist to buy some disinfectant wipes and then rang the NHS helpline.

"They said that because he hadn't picked up the needle end he would be all right," she said.

"He knows he shouldn't have picked it up but it shouldn't have been there in the first place and I think curiosity got the better of him."

Later that afternoon Michelle called the restaurant to make a complaint.

"I wanted to speak to someone in authority because it didn't seem like the complaint had been taken seriously," she said.

"A senior manager rang me back and apologised.

"He said the toilets were cleaned every 30 minutes and this was an isolated incident.

"But I still feel they were rude to my son and it's not clear if they realise what could have happened."

Alison Purves, the regional communications manager for McDonald's, said: "The health and safety of our customers is a priority for McDonald's.

"When the customer notified our manager of the incident, he took the situation very seriously and immediately disposed of the syringe safely.

"Paul Booth, franchisee, would like to apologise to the customer and her son for the distress this incident has caused."

Town centre community beat manager PC Andy Alexander said: "We have been talking to the needle exchange people about making their system more robust.

"Users can take old needles to doctors or chemists and get new ones but perhaps they are not doing the exchange part as robustly as they need to. "That's being looked at as we speak."