‘Legal high’ violence increase?

So called legal highs will be targeted by North Devon police.

So called legal highs will be targeted by North Devon police. - Credit: Archant

Police warn the ‘legal high’ Boom Dust could be causing trouble in North Devon town centres...

A so called ‘legal high’ Boom Dust could be causing an increase in violence on North Devon’s streets, police fear.

Although the number of offences of violence with injury are down generally, police have experienced a busy month and believe it could be linked to misuse of the drug.

“It appears to have an effect on peoples’ aggression and volatility,” said Inspector Roger Bartlett.

“Throughout October police did deal with a significant rise in the North Devon area and there are concerns some of these incidents are linked to that.

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“These things are sold as not for human consumption, but our concern is no-one really knows what’s in them or how they combine with alcohol and other drugs.”

The psychoactive substances known as legal highs often have similar effects as illegal Class A drugs.

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Although it is illegal to sell them for human consumption, many premises or internet companies sell them legally as ‘bath salts’ or ‘plant food’.

On Monday Torridge District Councillor Michael Footitt added his voice to the calls for the dangers to be highlighted, after three teenagers were taken to hospital while he was on a trip to Torquay:

“As Torridge’s member champion for young people my main concern regarding legal highs is the fact that someone as young as 13 can buy these in shops or off the internet. As these products are available in Torridge I am very concerned for local youngsters,” he said.

“Allowing sellers to hide behind loose disclaimers should be no defence when a substance is clearly sold for it psychoactive properties.”

Inspector Bartlett said police would be conducting early evening patrols focussing particularly on ‘legal highs’ and premises that sell them.

Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Hogg is also backing a crack down: “Parents need to understand the serious health-risks involved if their children use legal highs,” he said.

“I am determined we do everything we can to educate our communities so they understand that just because the substance says it is legal, does not mean it is safe.”

In September a new street marshal scheme was launched in Barnstaple to help tackle late night trouble, following fears drink-related violence in the area was on the rise. Qualified door staff have been carrying out high visibility patrols around the Queen Street area every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, between 3am and 4am. It is being jointly funded by Safer North Devon and Fever and Boutique nightclub.

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