A Scarborough News investigation has found potentially deadly legal highs being sold online for under a fiver.
Our probe follows the revelation that Scarborough’s addicts are shunning controversial ‘head shops’ to get a cut-price fix online – with traders even offering ‘Clubcard-style’ loyalty points to tempt users.
It comes a week after The Scarborough News revealed babies in the borough are being weaned off legal highs from birth.
Our exclusive marked the first anniversary of Scarborough Police’s public declaration of war on legal highs, and raised questions as to just how much progress the force had made in ridding the town’s streets of them.
But the police officer leading the fight against them in Scarborough insists her force is working to tackle the problem.
“Legal highs continue to be prevalent in Scarborough and there is a growing concern about the unknown long-term effects that these substances could have on people’s health,” said Chief Inspector Lindsey Stamp.
“Some of the side effects are people becoming very aggressive, assaulting people and getting into debt to sustain their habit.
“We know from our health colleagues that they are seeing side effects such as people hallucinating, foaming at the mouth, being violently sick and passing out.”
One user who dabbled in a substance called Clockwork Orange experienced all of those traits. He’s now spoke of his “disgust” after The Scarborough News found the potion – which has been linked to deaths – still available online, despite calls to ban it.
“After everything it’s put people through, how can it still be legal?” said the user, who asked not to be named.
“It’s worrying how easy these are available online.”
Our probe comes after Chief Inspector Stamp said intelligence showed dealers were selling legal highs alongside Class A drugs such as heroin from their cars, and addicts are buying them online.
Dozens of websites are selling them for as little as £4.99 a gram, with super-strength potions such as Afghan Black costing almost 20 times as much.
Suppliers promise perks such as next-day delivery to woo customers, while one firm offers a loyalty card, with customers able to swap points for powders.
More and more online ‘head shops’ – stores which specialise in legal highs – are popping up after being shut down on the high street.
Scarborough Council banned legal highs from being sold on its premises last year.
Yet despite these barriers we can reveal that since April 2013, Scarborough Police have dealt with at least 567 incidents involving legal highs, with children as young as 12 taking the potentially deadly substances.
Police now say that children are even thought to be swapping their own mobile phones for legal highs from street dealers.
Legally, adults can buy them from one of two private ‘head shops’ in Scarborough, one of which – Culture Counter – was raided by police last year. No charges were ever brought.
But Chief Inspector Stamp said: “Regular visits are made by the police and our partners with the head shops to ensure that they are trading within the law. It is very important that we ensure that we work with partners to provide harm reduction. We undertake regular operations to engage young people, and disrupt dealing and the taking of legal highs.”