Tackling legal highs in Newcastle

15 Jan 2016 12:51 PM

Best One shop [View Full Size]

A shop suspected of selling legal highs has been forced to close after action by police in Newcastle.

Last weekend the emergency services received an increase in the number of calls about people being under the influence of legal highs and the subsequent problems they were causing.

A number of people were also taken to hospital feeling unwell after consuming legal highs.

An investigation by police and partners, including the North East Ambulance Service and Newcastle Council, was launched to find out what was the cause of these incidents and while carrying out enquiries it was suspected that the Best One shop in Beaconsfield Street was selling legal highs.

Immediate action was taken by police and the premises was issued with a closure notice under section 76 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. This meant it had to close immediately.

Local residents around Beaconsfield Street were spoken to and they raised a number of concerns around anti-social behaviour and disorder that the selling of legal highs was contributing to in the area.

On Tuesday, January 12, a hearing in relation to the Best One shop in Beaconsfield Street, Newcastle was held at Newcastle Magistrates Court and the court extended the initial closure notice. This meant that the shop had to remained closed until a further hearing took place on Thursday Jan 14.

On Thursday a Magistrates court ordered that the shop close and cease from trading for the maximum period of three months.

Central Area Command Superintendent Bruce Storey said: "This closure order is a positive result for ourselves and the community. It means that the Best One shop can no longer open and, more importantly, that they won't be able to sell any more of the legal highs which we believe have been the cause a lot of harm to a lot of people in recent days.

"We've been speaking to local residents who live in the Beaconsfield Street area and they've told us about the problems that legal highs are causing them and their community. We know that those who consume legal highs are often responsible for anti-social behaviour and disorder and the level of concern this is causing local people is very worrying for us and our partners, and so we must take action and do something about it.

"Hopefully today's closure of the Best One shop will go some way in helping make people feel safer in the area and to tackle anti social behaviour and disorder locally.It will also hopefully alleviate some of the unnecessary pressure that has been put on the emergency services who have to pick up the pieces and deal with the consequences that legal highs cause."

Newcastle West Neighbourhood Inspector Barrie Joisce said: "The response from the community towards officers has been fantastic - they back our actions and have been fully supportive of what we are doing, because we are doing it for them.

"They are the ones who have to live in this area and the ones who's quality of life is suffering due to the ASB and disorder that is associated with legal highs. We will continue to target those people and businesses who are contributing to problems in the area and we will do all we can to help make it a safer and nicer place to be."

Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Regulatory Services, Cllr Nick Kemp, said: "The recent spike in legal high emergencies has caused a lot of concern and put the ambulance service under severe pressure.

"The council has campaigned long and hard to Government against the dangers of legal highs and will continue to do so. We will also not fail act in the interests of our communities whose lives are affected by these dangerous substances when they cause harm to health and lead to anti-social behaviour.

"We have issued a number of letters effectively warning people that they face prosecution if they don’t stop dealing in legal highs, and I’m delighted Northumbria Police have successfully applied for this shop to be closed for the maximum three month period. Hopefully this will give time for things to settle down in the community, and for the authorities to take stock before deciding on the next course of action."