WE FACE a legal highs ‘epidemic’ on our streets unless Portsmouth’s leaders get a serious grip on the growing popularity of the lethal substances.
That’s the stark warning from campaigners after council bosses deciding to ditch long-awaited plans to ban the use of legal highs in public spaces yesterday – a hammer blow to the campaign to wipe their usage out locally.
If the council doesn’t do anything, there could be an epidemic. But apparently it seems like a good idea to just sit back and wait for the government to act on this.Portsmouth father whose son’s life was destroyed by legal high addiction
Tory environment and community safety boss Rob New argued there wasn’t enough evidence to suggest legal highs were causing a problem with anti-social behaviour and existing powers had tackled any problems.
And he said the council would now wait for the government to introduce a blanket ban next spring on the sale, distribution and supply of the drugs.
But families who have seen lives ruined through taking legal highs say head shops where they’re sold continue to flourish – and the problem isn’t going to go away on its own.
A Portsmouth father whose son’s life was destroyed after he became hooked on legal highs and synthetic forms of cannabis and cocaine said: ‘I am extremely disappointed. If the council doesn’t do anything, there could be an epidemic.
‘But apparently it seems like a good idea to just sit back and wait for the government to act on this.
‘It would be silly to pin everything on the government’s ban, which is one piece of legislation.
‘Together with a ban in public spaces, the two could give the police all the powers they need to shut down the head shops.
‘Head shops are the gateway to illegal drugs.’
It comes after ex-criminal Daniel Brown from Portchester warned a legal high called ‘Spice’ at Winchester Prison had turned some inmates ‘psychotic’.
The Tories made a pledge before the general election earlier this year to explore the option of banning the consumption of legal highs in areas like parks and on streets, similar to how alcohol banning orders work.
The legislation considered was a public spaces protection order – which would have given the authority the ability to hand out fines of up to £100 – and has been implemented in Lincoln and Leicester.
But Cllr New says the order was a ‘headline grabber’ in those areas and had not had any ‘sustained victory’.
He said: ‘We know this would have very little effect, because we know people are not taking legal highs in public spaces.
‘The problem is people now buy them online, from retailers, and even if we closed down every head shop, they can have it delivered to their homes.
‘They can use it in their bedrooms and there’s no power in the land currently that can deal with these people.’