West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has issued a warning to shopkeepers about the consequences of selling “legal highs” following raid on shops in Bradford and Leeds.
Earlier this month, various substances and equipment police believed could be used to produce controlled drugs were seized when officers executed a warrant at Barkers newsagents in Sunbridge Road, Bradford.
The substances are undergoing forensic testing to establish whether any of the ingredients are controlled by existing legislation or subject to temporary bans. Although no arrests have been made, police have said they will look to bring court proceedings if any test results come back positive.
The raid was part of an ongoing West Yorkshire Police campaign to tackle the harm caused by legal highs.
Yesterday, Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson warned retailers that if they were found selling banned legal high substances they would be charged with possession with intent to supply.
He said the raids on shops in Bradford and Leeds demonstrated the hard-hitting approach being taken.
The Home Affairs Select Committee has praised West Yorkshire Police’s use of existing drug legislation to tackle the problem of legal highs.
Mr Burns-Williamson is now calling for existing laws to be tightened to reflect more legal highs being introduced into the market as existing ones are banned. He said: “The issue of legal highs is getting worse and we are seeing an increase in people dying, or being admitted to hospital, as a result of taking these substances, so we all need to do more.
“I will be asking Government to update the policies and laws that exist around such drugs to reflect the rapidly-changing problem we are facing with legal highs. The sale of them needs to be urgently reviewed with retailers facing harsher penalties if they are found selling them to minors.
“I want retailers to know they have a moral responsibility to stop selling these drugs over the counter because if they are found to be doing this, with substances currently banned, they will be dealt with severely.
“I would urge all retailers who haven’t signed up to the Register of Responsible Retailers, which means they either agree not to sell legal highs or if they do, not to sell to those aged under 18, to do so.”