Local politicians have welcomed the “positive action” being taken by the UK Government to ban New Psychoactive Substances, as outlined last week in the Queen’s Speech.
Angus MP Mike Weir said he is pleased that, with the proposed bill, the government is finally tackling a matter that is causing great concern in Angus and many other parts of the country.
He pointed out, however, that there may still be difficulties in defining what is banned.
He said: “Communities throughout Angus have fought determined campaigns to get rid of ‘Legal High’ shops and Police Scotland have done excellent work in shutting them down.
“The Scottish Government are looking at what they can do within their powers and now with the UK government promising action to ban these substances there is finally a co-ordinated attempt to tackle the menace that they pose to our communities.
“Problems may still exist in determining exactly what is banned but I am pleased that the Home Secretary has confirmed that not only will they tackle the substances on the street but will also be attempting to stop the sale of them through the internet.
“I am sure that these measures will get support from all sides of the House of Commons and I hope that the bill will be brought in quickly”.
While welcoming the proposed bill Graeme Dey, Angus South MSP, also sounded a note of caution in dealing with internet sales and emphasised the need to get the legislation correct.
He said: “At face value it should make a significant contribution to tackling the menace of NPS although when it comes to Internet supply it would, as I understand it, apply only to UK domain addresses so we might still have a supply issue.
“It will be important to consider the finer details of the Bill, a task the cross-party Ministerial Group on NPS, established by Community Safety Minister Paul Wheelhouse will, I am sure be taking on along with Scottish MPs at Westminster.
“But credit where it is due. The bringing forward of this legislation by the UK Government is a positive move in the battle against NPS.”
Angus North MSP Nigel Don also said he is delighted that the Government has recognised the potential risk that NPS pose.
He continued: “My recent discussions with the police indicate that they are very supportive and I hope the legislation will be brought forward as soon as is practicably possible.
“Meanwhile, I commend the police and other public agencies for their continuing work to disrupt the operation of local shops.”
Forthcoming legislation on the restriction of so-called Legal Highs has been welcomed by many quarters, but particularly by the man in charge of enforcing them in Angus.
Chief Inspector Gordon Milne, local area commander for Angus, believes tougher laws on the trafficking of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) are a step in the right direction.
He said: “I was very pleased to hear the references in the Queen’s Speech to trafficking of NPS and the subsequent detail of the draft legislation due to be laid before Parliament.
“I remain convinced that NPS poses a significant threat to the health and well-being of people in our communities and I believe tough legislation is a significant step in the right direction.
“However, Police Scotland will continue our work in this regard until we are completely satisfied the threat posed has been controlled as much as possible.
“I am delighted also to think that the work my Angus officers have undertaken over the last two or so years has provided evidence and information on which the forthcoming legislation is based on.”
Angus Councillor Glennis Middleton, who was a vocal opponent to the opening of a shop selling NPS in Forfar, said that while the proposed legislation is to be welcomed, she has doubts over its ability to effectively tackle sales of NPS over the internet.
She said: “I’m delighted that Westminster has recognised this as a serious issue and is taking steps to address it. My concern, however, remains that it will be almost impossible to ban every New Psychoactive Substance.
“The individuals who make these are extremely clever and change the formula at the drop of a hat and legislation will have to be very carefully worded to address this significant problem.
“It will also be much more problematic to make sure these can’t be sold over the internet and what may happen in the future is that it won’t be individuals purchasing on the net but one person bulk buying and selling locally.
“On the other hand, that would make them easier for the police to track down.”
Councillor David May was also at the forefront of the campaign in Montrose against NPS and a local High Street shop which is selling them. Mr May also said the proposed ban is “good to hear”.
He continued: “It is high time the shop in Montrose stopped selling these harmful drugs. The owners now have a very clear warning that they will soon be on the wrong side of the law and they should stop selling these substances straight away.
“Our petition calling for the end of the sale already has 250 signatures online and many more on paper in shops along the High Street.
“If anyone would like to add their names to the petition it can be found online here.”