Tell us where the legal highs are: GMP map Manchester ‘dealers’ after Lincoln ban

Manchester could be following Lincoln’s lead to stamp out ‘legal highs’ across the region after GMP announced they want locations of all shops that are selling the substances across the city.

On February 26, Greater Manchester Police for Higher Blackley and Charlestown tweeted a request for members of the public to aid their mapping process – indicating a potential crackdown on the selling and consumption of new psychoactive substances (NPS).

The first ‘legal high’ ban in the UK was imposed by Lincoln City Council last week, prohibiting the use of legal drugs in the city-centre, including shopping areas and the city’s football ground in a bid to tackle anti-social behaviour.

‘Legal highs’ contain chemical substances which mimic the effects of illegal drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy, but are not yet controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

These drugs can be purchased over the counter in some off licences and shops, rapidly increasing the availability of rereational drugs across the country.

The Safer Stockport Partnership has already begun an initiative aimed at exposing shops selling harmful legal substances in the area, but other parts of Greater Manchester have yet to follow suit.

Lincoln City Council voted unanimously in favour of a Public Space Protection Order (PSP) aimed at confronting anti-social behaviour caused by legal drugs.

Alcohol and drug treatment charity, Addaction, has declared its support of this new ‘legal high’ policy.

According to their statistics, Addaction Lincoln saw the number of people at its needle exchange due to NPS use increase over the course of the year.

In the first quarter of the year it recorded one person at the exchange, yet in the third quarter this number had risen to 46.

Steve Hewish, Addaction’s Service Manager in Lincoln, said: “We have been fully involved in the local consultation process, and have been in regular contact with the council and police over their plans.”

The UK has the highest legal high use across the whole of Europe and the number of people seeking treatment for addiction has more than tripled in the last three years.

Manchester Centre for the Study of Legal Highs (MCSLH) aims to estimate the prevalence of legal highs across Europe and particularly in the city.

The centre wishes to ‘develop policy and practice guidance covering areas such as public health guidance, access to treatment services and regulation/enforcement.’

The long-term effects of ‘legal highs’ are largely unknown, therefore research by MCSLH could potentially alter future drugs policies.

The problems ‘legal highs’ pose in the UK are being considered more seriously by governing bodies, with the ban in Lincoln possibly triggering future changes in Manchester as well as other parts of the country.

Image courtesy of Psychonaught, with thanks.

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