Hucknall police back ‘legal highs’ ban

Sgt Simon Scales
Sgt Simon Scales

Hucknall Police are backing government plans to ban ‘Legal Highs’ in a bid to save lives.

The promise to crack down on these lethal substances was pledged as part of the Queen’s Speech at the state opening of Parliament following the General Election.

It comes two years after pupils at the town’s National Academy became the victims of these legal drugs after smoking Salvia and suffered serious consequences as a result.

“Legal highs are more dangerous than controlled drugs and they need to be made illegal,” said Sgt Simon Scales of Hucknall Police who welcomed the government’s plans.

“We are lucky that we haven’t had any further incidents in Hucknall since the case at National Academy but this alone shows the serious effects these drugs have.”

The emergency services had to be called to the Annesley Road school back in March 2013 after 10 students were taken ill with two needing hospital treatment and one suffering a seizure.

“The problem with legal highs is that you simply don’t know what’s in them,” added Sgt Scales. “They are manufactured out of the country where there are no controls or testing.”

Young people are particularly targeted by sellers of these drugs, also known as Novel Psyscoactive Substances, which are used like illegal drugs, but not covered by current misuse of drugs laws, and so they are legal to possess or to use.

“Youngsters perceive them to be safe because they are not breaking the law, yet they give the same kind of hit,” added Sgt Scales. “But they have no idea the effect they could have. Many produce hallucinations, have psychotic effects, can stimulate depression and can also make people lose control and make them vulnerable to becoming victims of crime or indeed perpetrators themselves by committing crime whilst under the influence of such a substance.”

Many of these drugs simulate the effects of cocaine and cannabis and some even contain ingredients that are illegal to possess which could lead to convictions for possession despite being classes as ‘legal’.

As well as the attraction of being legal, the drugs are readily available over the counter and prevalent on the internet. Many are sold under names like Ching, Pink Panthers and Magic Dragon to name a few.

But as well as making these substances illegal, Sgt Scales believes education is the key.

“It’s about raising awareness of the effects and giving people the knowledge to say no and the legislation to punish suppliers.”

Principal of National Academy, Simon Jones, agreed that banning the drugs and education is the only way forward to tackle the growing issue.

“The legal label has to be removed as this sends out a confusing message to students that they are safe when they are clearly not,” he said. “Schools also have to take responsibility to educate and reinforce the message.

“We haven’t had any further incidents here at National and parents haven’t made us aware of any problems. I think the incident two years ago here may have acted as a wake-up call to students and the wider community of Hucknall that these drugs are not good, not safe and not acceptable.”

Notts County Council are also on-board with the proposal to bring in legislation.

The idea behind the Psychoactive Substances Bill is to create a blanket ban which would prohibit and disrupt the production, distribution, sale and supply of new psychoactive substances (NPS) in the UK.

Coun Glynn Gilfoyle, chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s community safety committee, said: “Notts County Council Trading Standards team is working with Notts Police and other local partners to use the legislation currently in place to tackle the sale of NPS.”

“We are concerned that people are putting their lives at risk by consuming these untested chemicals, that unscrupulous traders continue to sell.”

A total of 900 packs of untested drugs have been seized by Notts County Council Trading Standards team over the last year labelled such as ‘Herbal Haze’, ‘Pandora’s Box’, and ‘Happy Joker’. NPS have been associated with seizures, kidney damage and death.

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