COMMUNITY leaders are rallying behind the campaign to crack down on legal highs as fresh figures show use of the lethal substances is still on the rise.
Figures under the Freedom of Information Act show UK police forces on average are responding to 115 incidents each month involving legal highs – also known as new psychoactive substances.
That’s an increase from two a month in the same six-month period in 2010.
Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes warned a ‘prevalence’ of head shops selling the drugs is to blame.
He said: ‘I would expect there to be an increase, there’s been a prevalence of these head shops opening up.
‘The constabulary has been successful in closing down three in recent months.
‘But the people that supply the substances market them well.’
The News launched its Legal Highs: Only Lows campaign against legal highs in September to raise greater awareness and seek change.
We’re joining MPs in their support of proposed government legislation under The Psychoactive Substances Bill that would see a complete ban on the substances.
Backing the campaign, Mr Hayes said: ‘I think what The News is doing is a good idea and essential that this educational message is got through to the public and one of the ways of doing that is through responsible newspapers being proud to take on a social issue.’
Concerns have been raised about Portsmouth City Council’s commitment to the cause after it scrapped plans for a public ban.
Figures previously released show the number of incidents involving legal highs recorded by Hampshire police has shot up from none to 403 since 2010.
Fareham MP Suella Fernandes said: ‘The police simply don’t have the mechanism to deal with it when the substances are not currently banned, and this underlines again why the new powers – and The News’s campaign – are so important.’