THE MAN in charge of police in Hampshire has urged the Government to get tough on shop keepers selling legal highs.

Police and Crime Comissioner Simon Hayes, who has just marked his first year in office, wants politicians to get involved to banish substances branded as “legal highs” from the high street.

His views are a boost for the Daily Echo’s Say No to Legal Highs campaign calling on tougher laws and licensing rules for selling the substances.

It was launched after the potentially fatal substances claimed lives of young people in Hampshire and left others seriously ill.

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.

Mr Hayes said: “Legal highs are mind altering substances, whether they are branded legal or not. There have been a number of deaths as a result and I do think shopkeepers should be more responsible.

“They cannot be prosecuted because what they are selling is a legal product. Until Parliament gets its act together to ban the substances, shopkeepers will sell them.

“They cannot be prosecuted for selling them, but they have a moral question to answer.

“There needs to be an understanding of why young people feel they need to drink so much to have a good time, and why they need to take mind-altering substances to have a good time.”

In an interview with the Daily Echo yesterday marking his first 12 months in post, Mr Hayes went on to talk about his achievements.

Top of the list was the slashing of £40m from the force estates bill by selling off buildings and stations.

Part of that was the plan to sell off the empty “white elephant” Alpha Park building in Chandler’s Ford, bought at an overpriced rate of £9.2m by the police authority in 2008.

Delivered Mr Hayes added the closure of police stations in towns and villages across the county was met with the opening of another building in the same neighbourhood, and said: “It shows that the police are not withdrawing from communities, it is just delivered in a different place.

“We are not withdrawing from communities and we certainly won’t close one building until we have found an alternative.”

His future ambitions are to “reduce reoffending” and to deter young people from committing crime in the first place.