Enforcing ban on legal highs will stretch police further

Supply what until yesterday were dubbed '˜legal highs' and you will be prosecuted. Great in theory, now let's see if it works. We have our doubts.

From today it has become a criminal offence to supply, produce, import or export the drugs which increasingly are being called ‘lethal highs’.

With good reason. Because they kill.

As we know, it is easy to ban things. What is slightly more tricky is enforcing these bans.

Take smoking in cars carrying children. It was outlawed in October last year and in the six months to March there had not been one arrest in Hampshire. Yet we will all have seen that law flouted.

Drive a few miles and you will almost certainly spot a fellow motorist clutching and using a mobile phone. Another law-breaker who knows the chances of being nabbed for that particularly lethal practice range between fat and slim.

There may well be a flurry of high-profile police activity over these mind-bending drugs in the first months of the ban, but officer-light Hampshire Constabulary will soon be forced to deal with other priorities.

But the ban is a step in the right direction.

This newspaper has campaigned against the drugs and will continue the crusade by warning young people of their dangers. Possession has not become a crime overnight. Perhaps it should have done.

What it hopefully has achieved is driven people like Peter Stanley out of the business of selling legal highs, which he was perfectly entitled to do until midnight.

His Gypsy Kings shop in Portsmouth stayed open until midnight to sell as much stock as possible and he told The News: ‘Ninety-nine per cent of people who come into our shop have a can of Special Brew or a bottle of vodka. Nobody’s asking ‘‘what about the alcohol?’’’

The point is, one can of extra-strength beer will not kill you. One hit from a legal high can.