Published: 00:01, 09 August 2014
The government may follow in Kent’s footsteps as a review on how best to tackle the growing use of “legal highs” is expected to suggest trading standards could have greater powers.
Crime prevention minister Norman Baker launched a review into the substances last December on the notion that “one death from a legal high is one death too many”.
That is due out later this month.
New legislative powers and educational measures are going to be introduced, though exactly what they will be is still under wraps.
Mr Baker is due to finalise the details with Home Secretary Theresa May this month.
Other nations' models have been considered, such as blanket bans and a licensing system, but The Times reported this week that strengthening the power of trading standards officers to close down shops and websites under existing legislation is Mr Baker’s preferred tactic.
This comes four weeks after UK Skunkworks in Chatham High Street was raided by trading standards officers over concerns they were selling dangerous substances and marketing them towards students.
Last year Jimmy Guichard suffered a heart attack and brain damage just after taking a legal high, believed to have been bought from the Chatham shop.
It was one of 20 similar shops targeted in a successful county-wide crackdown which saw 424 sample packets taken away for testing and shopkeepers banned from selling a further 1,443 duplicate packets.
Similar raids and the confiscation of products believed to be unsafe have also been happening in Northern Ireland.
According to Medway trading standards officer Ian Gilmore, the main issue is to stop people getting away with selling the products because they say they are research chemicals and not for human consumption.
He said: “Blatantly behind that is the intention these are going to be consumed or ingested.”
The KM Group’s High Time campaign calls for stricter guidelines, including better labelling.
A dossier containing the findings has been handed to Mr Baker and has been fed into the government review.
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