Concerns over legal highs after girls are hospitalised
Families’ anguish over drug abuse
how UK Skunkworks, which sells legal highs, also known as New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) or research chemicals, had opened its 19th franchise in the town.
A spokesman for the shop was unavailable for comment as the Kentish Express went to print yesterday (Wednesday).
Police have said they are currently in talks with Kent Trading Standards over the shop.
A Kent Police spokesman said: “The lead prosecuting agency with regard to NPS is Trading Standards. Kent Police met with representatives from Trading Standards on Tuesday after several recent incidents involving the UK Skunkworks shop.” The Kentish Express has spoken to the parents of two young teenagers who have been experimenting with legal highs and other drugs.
The couple, who did not want to be named, say their children have been using street drugs, including cannabis and ketamine.
They also claim that the pair, both aged under 16 and attending schools in the town, have been taking legal highs bought at UK Skunkworks, including some bought by the 17-year-old believed to be involved in the case of the three schoolgirls taken ill.
And they say the effect has been to change the personalities of the youngsters beyond recognition.
They said: “It’s like you’re talking to someone completely different.
“They have gone from being normal, thoughtful, loving children, to becoming aggressive, angry and emotionally unstable.
“They are up and down and all over the place. One minute they might be angry, the next minute sad, and then laughing and joking. Everyone knows that teenagers are moody, but this is just way above and beyond that.
“The effect on our family has been absolutely devastating. We are absolutely washed out by the experience, and no one seems to want to help.”
The couple say they have addressed the issue with police; providing them with the names of dealers of illegal drugs and minors who have been buying products from UK Skunkworks.
They also claim they have spoken to teachers at various schools in the town attended by the children involved, but that not enough is being done.
They added: “Quite frankly, our children are not being protected. Obviously there are drugs everywhere, but there is definitely a big problem in Ashford involving very young people.
“I can’t understand how they’re getting away with it, particularly when these shops are selling to under-18s.
“From a parent’s point of view the government, police and schools are not doing enough. The government should be passing laws to make life easier for the police, whose hands seemed to be tied.
“The police have told us that they know minors are being served at Skunkworks. The simple answer is to shut these types of shops down and to arrest the people who are dealing in drugs.”
Uk Skunkworks shop in Bank Street An array of legal high chemicals for sale in a UK Skunkworks shop