Fresh con­cerns over ‘le­gal highs’

Po­lice say they are mon­i­tor­ing shop sell­ing ‘le­gal high’ prod­ucts and have warned young­sters of their risks

Aldershot News & Mail - - NEWS -

THE po­lice are mon­i­tor­ing shops in the News & Mail patch which are sell­ing ‘lifethreat­en­ing’ chem­i­cals classed as le­gal highs.

UK Skunkworks, a busi­ness which op­er­ates 19 shops across the south of Eng­land, has a shop in Alder­shot’s Vic­to­ria Road.

The shop sells smok­ing para­pher­na­lia, such as bongs, scales and pipes as well as chem­i­cals that are le­gal in the UK as they do not con­tra­vene the Mis­use of Drugs Act.

De­spite be­ing le­gal to sell, the busi­ness has been crit­i­cised by lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and the po­lice for the haz­ards its prod­ucts pose to cus­tomers.

Rush­moor Bor­ough Coun­cil mem­bers passed a mo­tion in Fe­bru­ary 2012 to call for con­trols to be in­tro­duced on the sale of drug-re­lated para­pher­na­lia in the bor­ough.

In a de­bate at this month’s full coun­cil meet­ing on le­gal highs, Rush­moor’s Labour leader, Cllr Alex Craw­ford, de­scribed the prod­ucts sold at UK Skunkworks shops as ‘a great source of pub­lic nui­sance’.

Among them are seeds to grow hal­lu­cino­gens, which are pro­moted in leaflets on dis­play in the shop. Although these are il­le­gal to con­sume, the leaflets de­scribe their ‘un­for­get­table taste’ and ‘re­lax­ing ef­fect’.

The man­ager of the Alder­shot UK Skunkworks shop was un­avail­able for com­ment.

A sep­a­rate shop in Fleet Road, Fleet, un­der dif­fer­ent own­er­ship, has also con­cerned res­i­dents.

Izzy, for­merly Snip and be­fore that Wool­worths, pre­dom­i­nantly stocks house­hold items, toys and craft ma­te­ri­als but dis­plays an ar­ray of pipes and items with cannabis im­ages be­hind its counter.

One wor­ried mother, who asked not to be named, said she had also seen items such as air de­odor­ants, pop­pers and hash tins for sale there.

“My is­sue is it’s in Fleet high street and it’s a kids’ shop,” she said. “Par­ents need to know about this. How dare they sell it? You don’t ex­pect to have peo­ple sell­ing those things in Fleet.

“I know it’s le­gal but it’s so wrong to be sell­ing it there along­side bucket-and-spades.”

Soni Singh, man­ager of Izzy, re­jected the sug­ges­tion the prod­ucts sold there were harm­ful, adding that they were pop­u­lar in the area and only avail­able to those over 18 and staff al­ways asked for ID. He said no com­plaints had ever been voiced by cus­tomers or the po­lice.

He said: “It’s all safe. We wouldn’t bring those things into the shop if they were danger­ous.”

A Hamp­shire Con­stab­u­lary spokesman said of­fi­cers knew of the UK Skunkworks shop in Alder­shot and is­sued a warn­ing to any­one think­ing of buy­ing the po­ten­tially danger­ous prod­ucts.

He said: “We are aware of the shop and we are work­ing with the owner, lo­cal busi­nesses and the lo­cal coun­cil to re­duce the level of re­lated an­ti­so­cial be­hav­iour in Alder­shot town cen­tre.

“Tak­ing so-called le­gal highs can re­sult in se­ri­ous con­se­quences. We want young peo­ple to be fully in­formed about the risks that these chem­i­cals, which are not for hu­man con­sump­tion, can pose and we there­fore work closely with our part­ners to ed­u­cate young peo­ple that le­gal does not al­ways mean safe.

“The con­se­quences can be life-threat­en­ing or life-chang­ing. There is no doubt that there are high risks when it comes to in­tro­duc­ing chem­i­cals to your body with­out any idea of what im­pact they will have.

“Any­one who thinks they could be af­fected by the is­sues sur­round­ing le­gal high drugs is en­cour­aged to seek pro­fes­sional ad­vice and help.”


The UK Skunkworks shop, in Vic­to­ria Road, Alder­shot.

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