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Twelve people arrested following investigation into NPS supply in Newcastle

08 Jun 2017 13:00 PM

Lethal highs [View Full Size]

Police want to warn drug users that they will be arrested if they are found in possession of 'lethal highs' – after making 12 arrests in just four days.

Officers in Newcastle city centre dealt with a spike in use of the drugs - also known as New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) - over the weekend and earlier in the week.

There have been a significant number of reports of people falling unwell having taken what is believed to be 'Power' or 'Spice'. A handful of those people have been taken to hospital as a precaution but nobody has fallen seriously unwell.

The reports are causing a huge strain on emergency services in the city and has also been very distressing for visitors to the city, many of whom are young children.

A full investigation has been launched and six people have been arrested in connection with supplying the drugs. A further six people have been arrested on attempted possession of NPS.

But police also want to remind users that NPS was classified as a Class B drug in December this year - meaning they could be arrested if they are found with even a small amount.

Superintendent Paul Knox, of Northumbria Police's Central Area Command, said: "There has been a spike in the use of NPS in Newcastle in the past week and people need to be aware of what they are taking.

"Despite the number of reports only a handful of people have been taken to hospital and nobody has fallen seriously unwell. However, these drugs are unpredictable and there is the potential that somebody could die.

"When people take these drugs it causes their breathing to become very shallow and more often than not people fall unconscious. This has led to reports of people slumped unconscious across the city centre which is distressing for other members of the public.

"This isn't something we want to see in our city and so we are working closely with the city council, public health and the ambulance service to put users in touch with various support networks available to them.

"We are also finding that many of these users still believe NPS to be legal. That is definitely not the case and in December the substances were re-classified as a Class B drug which means users can be arrested if they are found in possession of it.

"Since Sunday we have arrested six people for possession of the drug and another six people on suspicion of supplying it to some of the most vulnerable people in our city. Our work to identify those flooding our streets with NPS is being ramped up a gear and people need to realise that we will not tolerate the use of NPS in Newcastle."

The investigation into the use of NPS in Newcastle is being led by a dedicated task force set up by Northumbria Police in 2016 who have been working closely with Newcastle city council, North East Ambulance Service and Public Health.

In the past 18 months their work has seen hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of NPS seized in a number of raids and, when the drugs were still legal, saw a number of shops that stocked the dangerous substances shut down.

Investigations into the supply of lethal highs and other illegal substances across the force area are ongoing and anyone with any information on lethal highs, or the identity of those supplying them, can get in touch with police on 101.

Anyone who needs advice on drugs should contact FRANK on 08700 77 6600 or visit www.talktofrank.com. You can also contact local charity Lifeline on 0191 2614719 or by visiting http://www.lifeline.org.uk/