POLICE and health officials in Portsmouth have spoken of their concern about a life-threating drug which has seen users become ‘zombies’.
Portsmouth police urged anyone with information about suppliers of Spice, a synthetic cannabis substitute, to come forward.
The plea came following two days running in which police discovered homeless people on the drug. Although the users received medical attention, there are fears similar incidents could happen again.
Inspector Dave Ryan, from Hampshire Constabulary, said: ‘We’re concerned for the welfare of users of these types of drugs, as they can be potentially life-threatening. Equally we’re concerned for members of the community who witness people under the influence of these drugs.
‘We are taking steps to identify people supplying these drugs and we’re working with our partners in public health to raise awareness and to offer support.
‘Anyone with information about the suppliers of these types of drugs is asked to call 101 or to call the anonymous Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.’
Public health boss for Portsmouth and Southampton, Dr Jason Horsley, added: ‘New psychoactive substances have been causing significant problems since they were introduced to the market as so called ‘legal highs’.
‘A lot of these substances were actually more harmful than illegal substances, having more negative side effects and less of the beneficial effects users were looking for.
‘From a public health perspective, our best advice is to avoid illicit substances because of their potential harmful effects and because people can never be sure that what they have bought is what they intended to buy.
‘Members of the public who are concerned that they have witnessed someone affected by an overdose should contact 999.
‘If you are with someone who has become unwell using drugs get them urgent medical attention, and let the medical staff know what the person has taken so that they can best help them recover.
‘If you’re a drug user looking for support to come off substances, contact Society St James who have local support options available.’
A recent report to Portsmouth City Council revealed that across the city approximately 12,000 residents use illegal drugs annually.
It also showed that there are an estimated 1,427 heroin and crack cocaine users in Portsmouth.