Police are dealing with more than one case a day involving the dangerous substances, with children as young as 12 rushed to hospital after smoking the toxic powders.
After police raided one shop and another was shut down, Scarborough Council is set to ban ‘legal highs’ from being sold anywhere in the borough.
And in a cabinet report, the authority says that youngsters are easily getting their hands on the substances –which have left them, in one
case at least, with the urge to kill.
“I’m delighted that the council has taken strong action, as we understand how serious this is,” said Scarborough’s MP Robert Goodwill, who admits that until recently he didn’t appreciate the scale of the town’s problem.
But he has said he is “grateful” to The Scarborough News after we campaigned for action against what he now realises is a major issue.
He added: “I thought it was just a few isolated cases but since then I’ve met with parents and heard horror stories that have highlighted the true extent of this.”
Some of these horror stories have now been published by Scarborough Council, as part of the authority’s case to curb the sale of ‘legal highs’.
In one instance, a 17-year-old was caught with a concealed hammer after developing a desire to murder after becoming reliant on the substances.
In another case, a pair of 15-year-olds went on a violent robbery spree after smoking synthetic cannabis, punching random adults as they robbed addicts of cash and drugs.
And police arrested one 16-year-old when he turned violent against his family after consuming a popular substance called ‘Pandora’s Box’. He repeatedly tried jumping out of his window, while making threats to his family and injuring them.
These incidents are among 138 cases dealt with by police since April 30, when the force took the lead on a multi-agency intelligence gathering operation relating to ‘legal highs’.
As the founder of the Facebook group Parents Against Legal Highs, Scarborough mum Alexa Neil says she has spoken to scores of others whose children have experienced “nightmares” after taking them.
But as the council looks at blacklisting them, she said that while she’s “buzzing” about the news, the fight is far from over.
“To be honest, we thought we had hit a brick wall with this, but if the council wants to ban them then this is the best news I’ve had this year.
“This is what every mother in Scarborough wanted to hear.
“We know you can get them online but this is going to be a massive relief to everyone knowing our children can’t go about the town buying them.”
And Scarborough Council suspects this is exactly what children have been doing.
In the report, it states that it has reason to believe children have been able to buy them from specialist shops, despite the sale of them to under 18s being illegal.
The council also claims it has evidence to suggest adults have been buying them to then deal to children and teenagers.
On the back of this, the Culture Counter ‘head shop’ was raided in July by police with the owner arrested, although it has since reopened and no charges were understood to have been brought. And last month, Greenworld in the Market Vaults was closed by the council after repeatedly ignoring warnings not to sell the substances.
However, despite the proposed prohibition of ‘legal highs’ in the borough, the shop is in the process of reopening elsewhere.
But although the council claims 15-year-olds are the age group that the substances pose the biggest threat to, users as old as 51 have been put in hospital after dabbling with them, with one slipping in and out of consciousness after consuming ‘Genesis’.
Currently the Home Office is reviewing the status of ‘legal highs’ on a national level, although it is understand Scarborough Council is one of the first authorities to take action locally.
Under the proposals set to go before the council on Tuesday October 21, the authority wants to bring in measures that would impact a shop’s licence if it was found to be selling the substances.
However, the council does not have the power to make it illegal for traders to sell them to adults.