Dramatic rise in ‘legal high’ calls to police

New psychoactive substances, or legal highs
New psychoactive substances, or legal highs
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CALLS to police about people who have taken so called “legal highs” have increased dramatically over the last year.

Greater Manchester Police were called to just two incidents where the consumption of new psychoactive substances (NPS) had been in a factor in 2013/14 but this leaped to 30 in 2014/15, figures released under freedom of information laws have revealed.

Our concern is that these products have similar effects to drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy and the unstable and varied nature of the contents mean that the true side effects can never be predicted

Sgt Sharon Jackson

GMP were unable to provide more details about the incidents but said that the substances were a growing risk.

Sgt Sharon Jackson from GMP’s Wigan Division, said: “New psychoactive substances are a growing risk all over Greater Manchester and these items are easily accessible from retailers and online.

“Our concern is that these products have similar effects to drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy and the unstable and varied nature of the contents mean that the true side effects can never be predicted.

“We and our partners are working hard to educate sellers and buyers on the dangers of these substances, ensure that the correct warnings are in place and that where necessary steps are taken to remove the products from retail premises.”

NPS have been growing in popularity but have increasingly become a problem for emergency services.

Seven of the country’s 14 ambulance services said this week that they had seen a rise in the number of 999 calls because of legal highs but exact figures are hard to come by as calls are recorded by symptoms rather than cause.

The Government is trying to ban NPS, including nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas,” when used for human consumption.

The figures also revealed however, that the number of calls to police about incidents where the consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs had been a factor have fallen.

Police were called 5,226 where alcohol was a factor in 2013/14 but this fell to 4,513 in 2014/15 while calls related to the consumption of illegal drugs fell from 769 to 679 in the same period.

According to the figures, the youngest person arrested for being drunk and disorderly in Wigan in 2014/15 was 17 while the oldest was 79. GMP were unable to say how many of the reports police had attended.