urgent action needs to be taken to combat the sale of so-called ‘legal highs’.
That is the call in a joint-letter from Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones and county crime commissioner Simon Hayes.
They have written to the government asking for work to be done to better control the substances, with bans for some legal highs.
In the letter to Mike Penning, minister of state at the Home Office and Ministry of Justice, the pair have requested action to manage the risks associated with the growing and rapidly-changing market for the substances.
Cllr Jones said the use of legal highs is a ‘major concern.’
She said: ‘People think because something is legal it doesn’t carry the risk of other substances but that is not the case.
‘The use of legal highs is a major concern for society and the existing legislation isn’t suitable for the situation that has developed.
‘It is an issue the government needs to address as a matter of urgency and we will do everything we can to ensure action is taken as soon as possible.’
Cllr Jones and Mr Hayes are hoping to secure a meeting with Mr Penning, alongside minister of state at the Department of Health Norman Lamb and junior health ministers to further discuss the issue.
It comes after a motion was put to Portsmouth City Council’s full council by councillors Paul Godier and Hannah Hockaday requesting that action is taken around the regulation or banning of legal highs.
Mr Hayes said: ‘Legal highs are a serious problem.
‘Make no mistake, they can seriously harm, and have killed people.
‘Since 2011, deaths in the UK have increased by 79 per cent and I am gravely concerned that further delays in deciding how to deal with the problem will result in more serious incidents or deaths.
‘If a restaurant poisons its customers through contamination it is closed down instantly.
‘On this basis, the same rule should apply to establishments that sell products that can cause harm or kill.
‘In this instance, the word legal does not mean safe.’