A Northamptonshire Police superintendent has welcomed the introduction of a new law that aims to prevent the production and supply of so-called ‘legal highs’.
The Psychoactive Substances Act comes in to force today and will criminalise the supply of any substance intended for human consumption that is capable of producing a psychoactive effect, apart from a few named exceptions such as alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and medical products.
Legal highs are reported as being a problem by 10 per cent of young people in treatment in Northamptonshire, compared to two per cent nationally.
Northamptonshire Police will have a variety of option in enforcing this legislation including prohibition notices, premises notices, prohibition orders and premises orders which allow police or local authorities to require people to stop stocking, selling or supplying psychoactive substances.
Members of the public are being encouraged to let the police know if they believe shops or establishments are continuing to supply psychoactive substances.
Prison sentences of up to seven years and powers for officers to stop and search people, vehicles and vessels, enter and search premises in accordance with a warrant and to seize and destroy psychoactive substances are included in the new legislation.
While the new Act does not criminalise simple possession of psychoactive substances it will be an offence to possess them within custodial institutions, or anywhere with intent to supply them to another.
Superintendent Sean Bell, Director of Intelligence, said: “We welcome the introduction of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016. It is recognised that these drugs pose a significant risk to the safety of those that take them and this legislation will provide officers with the powers to take positive action in order to protect the public from harm.
“We want to raise awareness in our communities of the dangers that these illegal substances offer and the penalties that those manufacturing and supplying these drugs may face.”
In September 2014, James Johnstone, former owner of the Misty Haze shop in Northampton town centre, was given a three-month suspended prison sentence after he admitted selling ‘legal highs’ to schoolchildren.
A Northamptonshire County Council spokesman, said: “These substances can be extremely dangerous as people can’t be sure what they contain. They can cause significant damage to the people who take them and in turn hurt the people around them.
“We are keen to work closely with the police to tackle this issue and provide treatment to those who need it. We feel strongly that by sharing intelligence on their use we can implement the legislation more effectively and make Northamptonshire a safer place.”