Police have found no trace of illegal psychoactive substances for sale in former ‘Head Shops’ across the West Midlands.
Four months on from a change in laws which banned the sale of so-called legal highs, a sweep of the known premises which previously sold the substances has confirmed they are no longer trading.
Officers visited over 30 ‘Head Shops’ across the region over the past week and found that the products were no longer openly on sale.
West Midlands Police Chief Inspector Simon Inglis, who leads drive to tackle the issue, said: “Due to the shiny packaging, wide range of availability and the cheap price, New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) proved attractive to young and vulnerable people – and large profits were being made off the back of the misery of others.
“Following the law change back in May we pledged to rid the region of these illegal trading premises and we’re delighted that our early action seems to have been successful in preventing many people from coming to harm.
“The products that were previously sold through such shops across the region have been linked to a number of deaths and dozens of calls for service to both the Police and Ambulance Service.”
Traders were visited back in January to warn them that police action would follow the change in legislation and officers have kept to their word. CInsp Inglis added: “We said we would go back and check on these locations after the change in legislation and we have stuck to that promise.
“On a positive note, 35 of the locations have either been shut down or are no longer selling the New Psychoactive Substances. One ‘Head Shop’ in Wolverhampton that was still selling the products covertly was closed and the proprietor was arrested and prosecuted.
“This action is all about acting early to intervene and prevent future harm – which is central to everything we do as a force. Hopefully, by enforcing the new legislation we have done just that and stopped dozens of people from causing themselves serious harm through taking these substances.
“We know that there is still work to be done. It is likely that the sale of NPS has now gone underground and we will extend our activity to also focus on targeting those who continue to offer these dangerous products for sale, whilst continuing to highlight the harm these products can cause.
“We would ask for the support of our the community to help us locate and identify those involved in the illegal sale of drugs or NPS, while making sure we educate our young people about the dangers of NPS.”
The change in the law allowed officers to search suspects and vehicles with the power to seize and destroy the substances through the new Psychoactive Substances Act. Those caught with the intent to supply such drugs will face a jail term of up to seven years.
Anyone with information about shops or establishments which are believed to still be supplying psychoactive substances can call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.