Sunderland won’t get legal highs taskforce

A crackdown on legal highs in Newcastle does not need to be rolled out across Wearside, said police.

Northumbria Police announced today that a task force set up in Newcastle to tackle legal highs has cut the number of incidents.

Compared to figures in January, and following the task force’s launch, February has seen a 51.7 per cent fall in the number of calls to police about the substances.

However, Sunderland does not have the same problem with legal highs as its Tyneside neighbour and there are no plans for a similar response, said Northumbria Police.

Councillor Harry Trueman, Chair of the Safer Sunderland Partnership, said: “Community safety partners work closely together across the city to enforce legislation and prosecute where possible, in order to protect people from any harmful effects from these potentially lethal substances.

“The availability of ‘legal highs’ on sale in certain shops or across the internet is a national problem, one which we take very seriously.”

The majority of incidents involving New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), otherwise known as legal highs, reported to the force last year happened in Newcastle.

The city also reported the highest proportion of people accessing drug treatment services for NPS-related problems compared to anywhere else in the country.

Last month, Northumbria Police issued a closure notice on a shop in Fawcett Street in Sunderland after concerns about anti-social behaviour caused by people using legal highs believed to have been sold at the shop. The shop was ordered to close for three months.

Coun Trueman added: “There is a range of support available across the city for people affected by substance misuse.

“These provide advice, information, support and access to treatment services. If anyone has concerns about themselves, friends or family, I encourage them to contact the service on the freephone number 0800 234 6798.”

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