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Daily Echo launches campaign to tighten law on sale of 'legal highs'
TODAY the Daily Echo launches a new campaign calling for tougher regulations to combat the spiralling trade and devastating impacts of so called ‘legal highs’.
The potentially fatal substances have claimed lives of young people in Hampshire and left others seriously ill, yet are readily available to buy in the county’s shops and online.
Drugs police last night hailed our initiative which calls for:
- tougher laws
- vendors and sellers to be held to account
- tighter controls to stop vulnerable youngsters from being able to buy the products over the counter.
Backed by Hampshire Constabulary, we will be highlighting the dangers of “psychotic substances” which can be found on sale across the county – but are marketed as other items such as bath salts, pot pourri, incense and plant food.
We will also be calling for tougher laws, regulations and licensing rules to be imposed on businesses and manufacturers selling such products on the high street as well as online both in Britain and across Europe.
The Echo will be leading calls to urge shop owners and staff to take responsibility for what they are selling, to who they are selling and for what purpose and investigating whether there could be tougher penalties for those found selling such substances to children.
The campaign, called “Say No to Legal Highs”, comes just days after an exclusive Daily Echo investigation surrounding the sale of a so-called legal high Sensate which left city teenager Connor Holloway seriously ill.
Our undercover reporter was sold the product – packaged as a herbal incense costing £29.99 – at Up In Smoke in Bitterne despite owner Jaz Singh promising to remove it from the shelves in light of the incident.
The same product left Kent teenager Matt Ford suffering a heart attack after the 17-yearold took it two days after Connor’s ordeal.
Other ‘legal highs’ have claimed the life of three people from Hampshire in the past year.
Schoolboy Adam Hunt, from Millbrook, died in hospital in August five days after falling seriously ill after consuming alpha methyltrptamine (AMT) and etizolam.
Trainee doctor Doug Ferguson, 19, from Chandler’s Ford, died after taking the drug in June last year after being taken ill at a house in Heathfield Road.
Married father William Nutter, 32, from Andover, died after consuming AMT the following month.
Detective Superintendent Kath Barnes from Hampshire police, who leads the force’s dedicated anti-drugs and violence campaign Operation Fortress, today praised the Daily Echo’s campaign.
She said: “We would applaud any campaign that raises awareness of the inappropriate use of chemicals in order to get a fix. They are not for human consumption and can in some cases, as we have seen in Hampshire , prove extremely dangerous.
“It is fair to say we are seeing an increase, particularly in young people, who no longer have to buy a seedy drug on the street corner because they can go and buy chemicals instead, which are being sold legitimately, and use them in a harmful way instead.
“People need to think about the consequences – sometimes they can be life-threatening, sometimes life-changing and there might be times when an individual is lucky and might just get away with it.
“But there is no doubt that there are high risks when it comes to introducing chemicals to your body without any idea of what impact they will have.”
She added: “Operation Fortress is all about tackling drugs and predominantly crime and violence associated with unlawful drugs.
As police, it is our job to uphold the law and we have limited powers in relation to anything that is not classed as unlawful.
“We want young people to be fully informed about the risks they take and we want anybody who lives or works in a community to act responsibly themselves in order to help keep those around them safe.”
- Have you been affected by ‘legal highs’? Maybe you have taken one and suffered a bad experience, or a member of your family or friend has fallen ill while experimenting with one?
Perhaps you or someone you know regularly takes them and has become dependent or addicted to them and it has affected their physical or mental health? We want to hear your story. Call the Daily Echo on 023 8042 4498 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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