A bid to ban ‘very dangerous’ so-called ‘legal highs’ being sold in Sheffield is being launched by police and key city centre organisations.
The number of people using novel psychoactive substances, or ‘legal highs’, is on the increase in the city, with concerns users are putting themselves at risk and being aggressive in public places.
Police and other city groups are now putting together research on the substances with a view to getting courts to agree to ban them – and are appealing for the people of Sheffield to help contribute.
Ruby Baker, from the Cathedral Archer Project, which supports homeless people in the city centre, said: “We have seen a big increase in the use of legal highs. They are very dangerous.
“In my experience, they are strong and dangerous, because you don’t know what’s in them.
“Because of that, we don’t know how people are going to react. Some people collapse, some are aggressive.”
Police, Sheffield domestic abuse co-ordination team and Sheffield city centre residents action group, are now looking to gather evidence on legal highs in the city – in order to take information to the courts in a bid to close a loophole which allows shops sell them.
Sgt Naomi Saxton, of South Yorkshire Police, told a meeting of SCCRAG: “Because there are so many loopholes, it’s a bit of emperor’s new clothes.
“The retailers are selling it based on the loophole in the law which says they can, as long as they give a warning it isn’t for human consumption.
“What we are trying to do with the partnership group is to present substantial evidence to a court to say ‘look, it is being consumed by humans’ these retailers cannot maintain that stance that it isn’t for human consumption’.
“We want to be able to demonstrate it is dangerous, so it’s a Trading Standards and public health approach to getting it banned, because it’s dangerous to people’s health.”
Anyone who has seen people taking legal highs has been asked to contribute to the research.
n To take part, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com