PCC and Police Welcome New 'Legal' Highs Ban

23rd June 2016

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent and Gwent Police have welcomed new powers to tackle the supply of psychoactive substances.

The Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 comes into force today (Thursday 26 May), making it illegal to produce, supply, import or export a psychoactive substance that is likely to be used to get high.

This legislation will fundamentally change the way police forces and partners in the community tackle these substances previously known as 'legal highs'. These substances are sold under a range of names and brands, typically via the internet or in specialist shops called head shops. They can be just as dangerous as illegal drugs and sometimes more so, with some up to 10,000 times stronger than traditional drugs.

Work has been taking place across Gwent to raise awareness of changes to the law. Head shop owners and other potential suppliers have been given time to adapt to the new laws and stop the trading of these potentially dangerous substances. Gwent Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner have also worked together with local authorities and partners in the community to educate users and potential users about the new law and the risks of taking unknown substances.

A variety of options exist 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. Officers have also been given powers to stop and search people, vehicles and vessels, enter and search premises in accordance with a warrant, and to seize and destroy psychoactive substances.

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Jeff Cuthbert, said: "I welcome the new legislation on Psychoactive Substances as it sends out a clear message about the dangers of taking these substances. Prior to the new legislation, these substances were available through so called 'Head Shops' in our local cities and towns. This has had a detrimental effect on some of our local communities, encouraging youngsters to hang around the streets, fuelling anti-social behaviour. These substances can ruin lives and not addressing the harms associated with them can cause misery and harm to individuals, families and our communities."

Gwent Police Chief Inspector, Nick McLain said: "We welcome this new legislation and the positive effect it will bring to helping us tackle the harm these illegal substances can cause. The term 'legal highs' is interpreted by some as meaning safe. Nothing could be further from the truth and this new legislation is a positive step forward in helping to keep our communities safe from the destructive supply and use of drugs."

Gwent Police are encouraging the public to let them know if they believe shops or establishments continue to supply psychoactive substances once the Act commences on 26th May 2016. If you have any information on this issue, please call 101.