A police task force, set up to tackle legal highs, in Newcastle have seized a large amount of legal highs, which are suspected to contain controlled substances.
They are now being tested and enquiries are ongoing to see if a criminal offence has been committed.
The team was set up two weeks ago, comprising of officers from the Central Area Command. Since the launch, there has been lots of activity taking place in the West End and city centre areas.
Superintendent Richard Jackson said: “We’ve had a really positive reaction from the public so far about the work that we are doing to tackle legal highs.
“The harm they are causing is felt most in our communities in the city centre and in the West End and we’ll continue to do all we can to put a stop to it.
“One [legal high] user even contacted me direct to give information on their supplier.
“Although we’ve got off to a good start we will not get complacent. We certainly don’t think the problem has been solved and we are fully aware there are people out there still dealing in Newcastle, including commercial premises.
“Activity will continue and plans are already in place for a number of operations to be carried out at premises that we believe are selling legal highs in the city.
“The aim of these operations is to try and catch legal high sellers, get our hands on the products they are selling and find out if they contain any illegal drugs in them – if we find they do, then we will treat the sellers just the same as any drug dealer and they will be arrested.”
Officers have been receiving intelligence directly from legal high users.
Users have been telling police that it has been harder to buy legal highs in the city, with a number of their usual suppliers refusing to sell them because of the increased activity by police and partners.
The increased activity has included a number of addresses in the West End of the city that were subject to police warrants earlier in the week.
Officers have also been working with health workers and professionals, authorities staff and other partners to share health warnings and safety messages to people in Newcastle about the dangers of the “legal highs”.
Vera Baird, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “My feelings on these substances are well known and I am very pleased at the positive impact that this taskforce is having. We have seen here in Newcastle and throughout the country how these drugs have had a terrible impact on people’s lives.
“Local residents can be rest assured this is a top priority for me and I will ensure officers do everything within their power to get those selling these substances before the courts so we can prevent people getting addicted to them and putting their lives at risk.”