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Fife anti-drugs leader warns of booming online NPS sales

Legal highs. (library photo)
Legal highs. (library photo)

The use of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) is still prevalent in Fife, despite the introduction of laws to curb sales.

Fife councillor Ian Sloan, the vice-chair of the Fife Alcohol and Drug Partnership, said banning the sale of what were once termed as “legal highs” from shops has merely driven the trade online.

While claiming UK Government legislation, introduced last May, has been successful in curbing some use of the chemicals, he said many retailers have simply moved their operations online, with those looking to purchase such substances still able to do so.

“From what I understand there has been a reduction in people using NPS since it was banned from high street shops,” said Mr Sloan

“A high proportion were quite young people, and instead they are turning to the internet for sales.

“This is a real issue. Police are tracking these websites so people buying off them can be identified. But there will always be a demand in Scotland for these substances and people will find sources. That element has not been removed yet.”

New laws criminalising the production, distribution and sale of NPS were passed in a bid to curb what appeared to be an ever-increasing casual use of synthetic drugs.

Ian Sloan
Ian Sloan

Often sold under the guise of plant food or pot pourri, the substances are engineered to give users similar effects to drugs such as cocaine and cannabis.

In 2015, more than 100 deaths across the UK were linked to what were then referred to as a “legal highs”, along with a rise in violent assaults in prisons, where they have proven particularly prevalent.

While confident that new laws will have curbed some use of NPS, Mr Sloan said it was important that people knew that groups such as the Fife Alcohol and Drug Partnership could offer assistance to those wanting to seek advice.

“There is a lot of help, support and advice available for people,” he added.

“I just hope that people can use it before it’s too late.”

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