Portsmouth legal high shop shut down in police crackdown

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POLICE have closed down a controversial legal high shop – saying the cafe was having a detrimental effect on the community.

Now Peter Stanley, the owner of Gypsy Kings Cafe, in Commercial Road, Portsmouth, says he is considering stopping selling psychoactive substances altogether.

CLOSED The Gypsy Kings cafe at the top of Commercial Road, Portsmouth. Picture: Stuart Anderson

CLOSED The Gypsy Kings cafe at the top of Commercial Road, Portsmouth. Picture: Stuart Anderson

Officers put up hoardings barring anyone from entering the premises for the next three months.

PC Dan McGarrigle said: ‘The closure of the premises demonstrates that we take reports of anti-social behaviour seriously.

‘The anti-social behaviour related to this premises has had a detrimental effect on the local community and has had a negative impact on individuals, families and businesses.

‘It is my belief that the anti-social behaviour was related to the premise supplying psychoactive substances, commonly known as legal highs.

‘These substances are extremely dangerous and certainly not safe for consumption, this can cause individuals to act otherwise than they normally would when not under the influence of substances, and this can result in acting in an anti-social manner.

‘The ultimate consequence of taking a psychoactive substance could lead to fatality or serious mental health issues. I would encourage anyone who needs help and support around substance misuse to contact the appropriate agency.’

The closure order was taken out at Portsmouth Magistrates’ court yesterday under the Anti-social, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

Hampshire Constabulary worked with the city council.

Dr Janet Maxwell, director of public health said, ‘A small minority of people misuse so-called legal highs.

‘We are finding a number of people becoming very unwell both physically and mentally due to the use of these products. Just because they are not illegal does not mean they are safe to consume.

‘I would advise any person who might be using these substances or their parent/carers to contact one of the confidential support agencies in the city that can help.’

Mr Stanley, who also owns a legal high cafe in Havant, gets around the law by stating ‘not fit for human consumption’ on packaging.

He said: ‘I still maintain there’s been a bit of a witch-hunt around my brand name.

‘But in the future there will be fewer legal highs and more help – oils, creams, seeds, shampoos and I’m even thinking about health food products. We’re getting a lot of the wrong attention.’

Support is out there for people taking legal highs

The effects of legal highs can be devastating on people who take them.

There is support out there for people who are struggling with an addiction to them.

Anyone under 18 years of age can contact the Are You Sorted team at Portsmouth City Council on (023) 9284 1560 and those over 18 can contact the Portsmouth Recovery Hub on (023) 9275 1617.

Alternatively anyone with concerns relating to legal highs can find further information on the FRANK website: talktofrank.com/drug/legal-highs or the Angelus Foundation angelusfoundation.com.

You can also contact the Portsmouth Central Neighbourhood Policing Team on 101, or via Twitter @PompeyPolice.