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Police and prisons don’t know extent of ‘legal highs’ scourge
Police Scotland and prisons don’t how many so-called ‘legal highs’ are confiscated each year, a series of Freedom of Information requests has revealed.
 
Ahead of a debate on new psychoactive substances in Holyrood tomorrow, the Scottish Conservatives asked Police Scotland how many seizures of the substances have been made in recent years.
 
But the single force was unable to say how many were seized either when making arrests or through the controversial stop and search methods, adding an individual check of officers’ records would be required for a complete picture.
 
In addition, the Scottish Prison Service said it didn’t know how many ‘legal highs’ were confiscated in jails because it sends all samples away to Police Scotland for testing.
 
This is despite authorities in England saying the substances were a major problem in prisons south of the border.
 
The Scottish Government has organised tomorrow’s debate to recognise the “progress being made” in tackling the problem.
 
But the Scottish Conservatives will say that while the implementation of expert review group recommendations are welcome , given the police can’t even detail the exact extent of the issue, it is clear more work needs to be done.
 
Latest figures show ‘legal highs’ were present in an increasing number of deaths in 2013, with 108 recorded in total, while charities have also warned about their increasing use.
 
Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said:
 
“We know all too well that new psychoactive substances are a threat to our local communities and the health of Scotland’s young people.
 
“Police Scotland is doing its best to battle this issue on the ground, but it urgently needs to put a strategy in place to detail exactly how many of these substances are in circulation.
 
“You would think that the single force would have a centralised database listing how many of these drugs have been seized at the point of arrest or even through stop and search.
 
“Right across Scotland people are getting their hands on these potentially lethal drugs, and there’s very much a feeling in our communities that we are powerless to do anything about it.
 
“The Scottish Government has made some good progress so far in tackling the scourge of ‘legal highs’, but it’s clear that it cannot be complacent.”
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