New Psychoactive substances

Published on: Thursday, 25-June-2015

Knowsley Council, working with partners including Merseyside Police and Knowsley Chamber, is raising awareness of the dangers of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), or legal highs as they are commonly known - and supporting a total ban as well as raising awareness and highlighting the dangers they pose.

There are also reports of Vertex being used in neighbouring areas which has led to people being hospitalised.  Vertex is a smoking product used as an alternative to cannabis.  When tested, Vertex was found to contain potentially lethal chemicals.

Whilst nitrous oxide is not illegal to buy, it is a very dangerous gas and when inhaled, it can have serious side effects which are putting young people’s health and safety at risk.  It can cause headaches, vomiting, loss of consciousness, drowsiness, cause seizures and puts young people in a vulnerable position.

At their Council meeting on 24 June, councillors passed a Notice of Motion in favour of a crackdown.  It notes laughing gas can lead to a lack of oxygen which can put people at risk including a lack of oxygen and risk of suffocation.  The risks are exacerbated when nitrous oxide is used with alcohol.

The Leader of Knowsley Council supports the Government’s announcement of a New Psychoactive Substances Bill and encourages a national public campaign to highlight the dangers of these products.

Cllr Andy Moorhead, Leader of Knowsley Council, said “New Psychoactive Substances are extremely dangerous because they are easily accessible, are changed constantly to avoid legislative control and they do not hold the same perceived threat to health as illegal drugs.  Many young people are unaware of the dangers they pose, which is why we are raising awareness of this issue to ensure that our children and young people are protected.  This is a national issue and whilst I am pleased to note that action is being taken by the Government to ban the production, sale and supply of NPS in the UK, we need to do more to raise awareness of the dangers these products pose.  As well as legislative action, there is an urgent need to raise awareness at a national level of this important issue.”

The Psychoactive Substances Bill will make it an offence to produce, supply, offer to supply, possess with intent to supply, import or export psychoactive substances; that is, any substance intended for human consumption that is capable of producing a psychoactive effect. The maximum sentence will be seven years’ imprisonment.

Whilst the Bill is being established, the council and its partners will be raising awareness of NPS, including the dangers and risk they pose.

Further information and support is available from Engage – Knowsley’s young person’s substance misuse treatment service – on 0151 545 2859.  If you have any information about people selling NPS, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the police on 101.