Commissioner wants tougher laws on ‘legal highs’

Mark Burns-Williamson.
Mark Burns-Williamson.

West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has issued a warning to shopkeepers about the consequences of selling “legal highs.”

Mark Burns Williamson said a recent prosecution of a Leeds retailer for selling goods he knew would be used for drugs, and other raids on shops, demonstrated the hard hitting approach the authorities were taking.

The raids came amid suspicions that retailers were selling “legal highs” which included substances suspected to be the subject of temporary bans.

Earlier this month there was a landmark prosecution against the boss of the Fantasia shop on Ludgate Hill in Leeds for supplying articles used to administer or prepare controlled drugs.

The Home Affairs Select Committee has already praised West Yorkshire Police’s use of existing drug legislation to tackle the problem of “legal highs.”

Now a briefing note and covering letter, endorsed by the Chief Constable Mark Gilmore and Mr Burns Williamson, will be sent out for circulation to all police and crime commissioners, detailing the success of the prosecution in Leeds for selling “legal highs.”

Mr Burns Williamson is now calling for the existing laws to be tightened up to reflect the rapidly changing problem facing communities with more “legal highs” constantly introduced into the market as existing ones are banned.

He also warned retailers that if they were found selling banned “legal high” substances they would be charged with possession with intent to supply.

Mr Burns Williamson said: “The issue of ‘legal highs’ is getting worse and we are seeing an increase in people dying and being admitted to hospital as a result of taking these substances so we all need to do more.

“I will be asking Government to update the policies and laws that exist around such drugs to reflect the rapidly changing problem we are facing with “legal highs” because every time a chemical substance gets banned, another one is introduced into the shops. The sale of them needs to be urgently reviewed with retailers facing harsher penalties if they are found selling them to minors.”