Cheshire Police has issued legal notices against three city centre shops to stop them selling legal highs as they released a shocking video showing a man collapsing after apparently having taken one of the substances.
Legal highs, which can be bought in the high street and over the web, have become a menace across the country with footage showing a male victim keel over unconscious on The Rows before being taken away by ambulance.
The government plans to make these substances illegal by next April but in meantime police and councils are trying to find ways of protecting the public.
This week Cheshire Police – supported by the council’s Trading Standards team – issued Community Prevention Notices against three unnamed outlets, to ban the sale and distribution of legal highs under anti-social behaviour legislation. Vendors had been happy to sell these psychoactive substances even though they are marked ‘not for human consumption’.
Inspector Paul Loughlin, who led the team issuing the notices said: “The notices we’ve issued today prohibit the selling and distribution of legal highs by these shops and are just one of the tools we have available to us to tackle the issue of legal highs and associated anti-social behaviour.
“Chester is a family friendly city and the police are well aware of the adverse effects legal highs have on people who take them and others who come into contact with users. Taking this action today, I want to reassure our communities that we’re here for them, when and where they need us, and importantly to stress that we are taking such action not just to prevent users of legal highs from coming to serious harm but also to protect others from anti-social behaviour, often directly linked to such use.
“It’s vitally important that our communities work with us to tackle problems in the city. If anyone has any information regarding issues, such as legal highs or the misuse of controlled drugs, please contact the police on 101 or leave information anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
Emergency services have grown increasingly concerned at the number of people collapsing in the busy streets of Chester city centre , on occasions appearing lifeless, after taking legal highs. Victims of this addiction often suffer these adverse effects in full view of passers-by, including young children.
People who work with the homeless in Chester say the harmful effects of legal highs can be worse than illegal drugs and tempt desperate people to waste their limited funds instead of purchasing basics like food. And legal highs have also been taken by teenagers .
Earlier this year police responded to incidents in Warrington and Runcorn leading to three males and two females, including a 16-year-old girl, being taken to hospital.
Cheshire West and Chester Council has proposed including the banning of taking legal highs in the city centre under the terms of a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) which aims to tackle a wide range of anti-social activities and is under consultation until October 15.
Cllr Louise Gittins, cabinet member for culture, leisure and wellbeing, said: “Legal highs can carry serious health risks as, in most cases, they have not been tested to show that they are safe. Indeed, it is becoming increasingly clear that legal highs are often far from harmless and can have similar health risks to drugs like cocaine, ecstasy and speed.
“The action taken today demonstrates our commitment to protect our communities from the very real danger posed by these substances.”
What do you think about legal highs? What do you make of the footage? Let us know in the comments below