AN MP has joined the fight to banish legal highs after witnessing first-hand the impact dealing with users has on the emergency services.
Fareham MP Suella Fernandes spent a day out with police in the town earlier this week, where she saw how much time is spent by the force cleaning up after legal high users.
A blanket ban is common sense but it is taking a long time to get through legislation so that production can be tackled and action taken against suppliers.Fareham MP Suella Fernandes
Miss Fernandes said she was ‘shocked and surprised’ by the number of people using the substances in Fareham.
She is now backing a blanket ban – called the Psychoactive Substances Bill – which was introduced in the House of Lords in May and is currently passing through parliament.
Miss Fernandes said: ‘Legal highs have a devastating affect.
‘The police are in a difficult position because they cannot take action as those in possession are not breaking the law.
‘There’s a real problem and what the government has done is to ban certain compounds, but each time they do another one comes up.
‘A blanket ban is common sense but it is taking a long time to get through legislation so that production can be tackled and action taken against suppliers.’
Miss Fernandes said that the bill was a high priority for the government as it was mentioned in this year’s Queen’s Speech.
She said: ‘When I went out with the police there were two issues. One was that drug-related crime is a massive problem for the police, with all the time spent cleaning up the mess from it.
‘The other is that they know who is doing these drugs but they cannot do anything, not to mention the mental health aspect.’
Fareham’s council leader Sean Woodward said: ‘They are dangerous and can kill people. It is something I feel very strongly about and there needs to be a national government direction to ban them.’
Research conducted earlier this year by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) found the number of police incidents involving legal highs had almost trebled across England in a year.
It said incidents soared across forces – from 1,356 in 2013 to 3,652 in 2014.
It also found the number of deaths associated with the use of legal highs increased from 12 in 2009 to 97 in 2012 in the UK.