WILTSHIRE police and other agencies in Swindon say they are leading the way in the fightback against so-called legal highs.
The Adver told yesterday how the heartbroken family of Danny Davies, a user whose death remains a mystery after he collapsed in the street, want more done to stop the supply of the potentially deadly substances.
A pathologist is establishing how the 45-year-old died but his partner Sarah Sherwood, from Pinehurst, said his life had been destroyed after the father of her four children began taking chemicals, including Eric 3.
Insp Paul Saunders, Partnership Inspector for Swindon, said: “The recent experiences in Swindon have led to education initiatives for drug users through the drug treatment services, training for front-line staff in both police and council roles on the current trends in legal highs and how to help, support and guide those who have been caught up in the cycle of drug use.
“Indeed, the learning from the Swindon experience has been shared at a recent seminar, which was attended by professionals from Trading Standards, police, the National Treatment Agency, drug treatment specialists from across the whole of the south west region and as far as the south east.
“The seminar had the express purpose of educating those who deliver support services of the dangers, trends and implications of legal high usage “But it also offered potential solutions in the form of closer partnership working and sharing of information of potentially dangerous substances.”
Insp Saunders said Wiltshire Police would take action where legal highs already contained banned substances and would take steps to have others outlawed.
Wiltshire Police previously joined other forces, Swindon Council, Great Western Hospital and drug services to put forward evidence which led to methoxetamine being banned.
Insp Saunders said: “The subject of legal highs is a topical and emotive one and Wiltshire Police are committed to working with partners agencies from Swindon Borough Council, Great Western Hospital and drug treatment services to educate and inform people about the dangers associated with these substances. “We will reiterate the statement that legal does not always mean legal, and legal does not mean safe. As with controlled substances these are unlicensed, unregulated and potentially dangerous.”
Swindon charity Delivering Health And Independence is one of the agencies which took part. Team leader Mike Strathdee said: “We have worked closely with the police, doctors at Great Western Hospital and other agencies in order to ensure that information regarding potentially lethal substances is regularly exchanged so that treatment methods can be adapted according to current needs.
“The recent legal highs seminar is indicative of a cross-agency commitment to deal with this issue and to ensure that best practice, information and support is offered to all who are or are likely to be affected by using legal highs.”
l To access drug treatment services in Swindon call DHI on 01793 617177