A special operation has been launched by police to tackle the use of ‘legal highs’ among young people in Lincolnshire.
Launched today, Operation Burdock sees police working with Trading Standards and public health officials to tackle the use of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) commonly-known as ‘legal highs’.
A joint effort to educate parents and warn youngsters of the dangers of NPS use is now in full swing across the county.
The action has been prompted by what police say is ‘a dramatic increase’ in the number of people being taken ill in Lincoln after using NPSs in the last year.
But a police spokesman said it’s important to get the message out in Boston too - where legal highs are readily available in shops.
“Intelligence suggests that use among school pupils is on the increase and Lincolnshire public protection agencies are warning that it is only a matter of time before we see deaths,” they said.
“NPSs are not regulated and not tested. Many actually contain illegal drugs and most contain noxious substances that can have lasting physical and psychological effects.”
The proactive police action focusses on people who have purchased large amounts of NPSs.
The spokesman said: “We are unable at this stage to go into operational detail, but we will update you on the results of the police action as soon as it is complete.
“In the meantime it is vital that we publicly discuss the effects of the use of NPSs and warn parents and potential users that people are playing Russian Roulette every time they consume them.
“The police are now regularly seeing the negative effects of NPS use on the streets. People are being found unconscious in the streets and hospital A&E departments are regularly admitting people suffering disturbing side effects.
“Police intelligence suggests pupils are under the influence of NPS at school. Every secondary school in Lincoln city centre bar one has reported incidents to us.
“Lincolnshire custody suites are regularly dealing with prisoners under the influence of NPSs and this is a huge drain on resources, with many suspects needing round-the-clock observation due to their unstable physical and psychological health while in custody,”
NPSs are available online, but also in so called ‘head shops’ in Lincoln and Boston.
The police spokesman added: “While legislative gaps remain police and Trading Standards powers are limited, but robust action has and will continue to take place where substances are found to contain illegal drugs.”
They offer the following guidance:
l Many substances sold as NPS may be illegal, dangerous and linked to organised crime.
l Lincolnshire Police, working with its partners, is taking enforcement action to tackle the issue.
l You can’t be sure what’s in a ‘legal high’ or what effect it will have on you. For many ‘legal highs’, there has been little or no useful research into the short or long term effects in people.
l Anyone who buys such substances is playing Russian Roulette with their health and their futures (possession of a controlled drug can lead to a criminal record which could affect future career prospects and travel plans)
l People who run websites selling these products do not care about the consequences for their customers – they are only interested in maximising their profits.