Drug dealers in West Yorkshire selling former 'legal highs' one year on from ban

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WEST Yorkshire Police have recorded 19 offences in connection with former 'legal highs' in the 12 months since a ban came into  force as market for the psychoactive substances has been "pushed underground."

The change in legislation in May 2016 made it illegal to produce, supply, offer to supply, possess with intent to supply, import or export psychoactive substances.

Since last May, West Yorkshire Police say they have recorded 19 offences under the legislation and a number of premises that had previously sold psychoactive substances stopped doing so or closed all together. 

A total of 12 offences were for possession with intent to supply; four were for supplying psychoactive substances and three were for bringing or having psychoactive substances in prison.

Detective Chief Inspector Warren Stevenson said; "We have seen a significant compliance amongst many of those who were previously selling and distributing psychoactive substances which is exactly what the legislation set out to achieve.  

"Being unable to access these substances has had a significant positive impact on our communities. Previously, shops selling these substances were also often the epicentre of anti-social behaviour and officers were often being called to the locations following concerns.

"This has completely stopped, with the high street shops in West Yorkshire either closing, or no longer selling psychoactive substances. 

"We have seen the market for these substances pushed underground with drug dealers selling them alongside their usual commodities. This has enabled Police to investigate psychoactive substance offences alongside other usual drug crimes. 

"We continue to run operations across the Force tackling psychoactive substances and continue to spot check premises that may have previously sold them, as well as acting on new intelligence.  

"The closing of a significant number of premises and retail outlets, has significantly reduced the supply of these substances which has a positive impact on everyone. Those arrested have been for offences of supply or the intent to supply psychoactive substances - the precise offences highlighted within the legislation.  

"All synthetic cannabinoids such as Spice are now Class B drugs after being re-classified in December 2016. Offences relating to them are now recorded under the Misuse of Drugs Act. This has further increased police powers to tackle those selling and distributing Spice and synthetic cannabinoids, but also those who have the substances in their possession, allowing us to take positive action in our communities to deal with these unregulated substances. 

"We are committed to tackling both the sale and distribution psychoactive substances and controlled drugs across West Yorkshire and will use all legislation available to do so to keep our communities safe." 

Anyone who has any information or suspicions about psychoactive substances or those suspected of producing or distributing them can contact their local Neighbourhood Policing Team via 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Information can also be passed to Crimestoppers online.