Unsafe ‘legal highs’ seized in Highland joint operation
Highland Council Trading Standards, in partnership with Police Scotland, NHS Highland, and the Highland Alcohol and Drug Partnership have been tackling sellers of new psychoactive substances (NPS), also controversially and incorrectly known as ‘legal highs’. This action was part of a week of co-ordinated enforcement activity across the country, named Operation Alexander.
The action followed growing concerns of the harms that NPS products cause to people who use them, this, along with forensic evidence, brought the conclusion that NPS products are unsafe and as such breach the requirements of the General Product Safety Regulations 2005. Two known premises in Highland were targeted with 387 products seized, worth over £9000. Work is now in progress with the traders involved to completely remove NPS supply from their business. This comes at a time where concerns about the availability of NPS had also been raised by parents of school pupils preparing for their after school parties.
Highland traders have been left with a clear message that ‘Legal Highs’ are no longer legal, they are unsafe. They have been informed that claims such as ‘Not for Human Consumption’, ‘Research Chemical’, ‘Not for sale to over 18’s’ often found on the packets are meaningless and will not deflect any enforcement action to be taken should supplies continue.
Gordon Robb, Trading Standards Manager at Highland Council, and Chair of SCOTSS, said: “Local authorities embraced this opportunity to implement co-ordinated action against the sellers of NPS throughout Scotland. The safety of consumers is our foremost consideration, and we welcome liaison with our partners such as Trading Standards Scotland, Police Scotland and the Scottish Government in the fight against this scourge on our local communities. We will continue to take robust enforcement action against the suppliers of unsafe products such as NPS, as and when local intelligence determines the need and the constraints under which we operate make it possible.”
Temporary Chief Inspector Brian Mackay of South Highland Command, Highland & Islands Division Police Scotland stated: “Together with Highland Council Trading Standards and NHS Highland we are delighted to work in collaboration to tackle the threat, risk and harm NPS causes to our local communities. The advice of Police Scotland is again straightforward - DON’T TAKE THESE SUBSTANCES. Just because they are referred to as 'legal' doesn't mean they are safe. There is no ‘safe’ way to take NPS, there is always a risk. The only way of staying safe is to avoid NPS altogether.”
Hugo Van Woerden, Director of Public Health at NHS Highland added: “We were very pleased to play our part in this. We are extremely concerned about the risk that some individuals will consume such substances and come to harm. A small but significant proportion of individuals who take psychoactive substances go on to experience short term or long term mental health problems. The NHS regularly sees people whose lives have been ruined by these products.”
Members of the public who have information regarding the supply of NPS products are urged to contact Trading Standards, early intervention in the supply of such products could save lives.