Two individuals have this week been arrested following an investigation into the manufacture and supply of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) or ‘legal highs’.
Two individuals have this week been arrested following an investigation into the manufacture and supply of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) or ‘legal highs’. The arrests were part of an operation involving officers from the London Regional Organised Crime Unit including the National Crime Agency.
The arrests of a 32 year old male and a 30 year old female in the London area come as the National Trading Standards Scambuster Team East Midlands and officers from the East Midlands Special Operations Unit(EMSOU), supported by the Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN) in both the East Midlands and London Regions, investigate the activities of a group responsible for the manufacture and nationwide distribution of the products.
The specialist team – hosted by Nottinghamshire County Council – works across the region to target organised criminals who set out with the intention of preying on the most vulnerable in our communities across the East Midlands.
These latest arrests follow the execution of a warrant on 12 August by officers from Nottinghamshire Police, EMSOU and the Scambuster Team at an industrial unit in Harworth, Nottinghamshire. The unit was being used to manufacture significant quantities of NPS and enquiries have revealed that they were being distributed on a nationwide basis.
The estimated value of the raw material and finished product seized could run into millions. Two workers from Lincolnshire who were present at the unit were arrested on the day of the warrants.
A further individual from Lincolnshire has subsequently been arrested and interviewed by Scambuster investigators. All three have been bailed.
The investigation into these activities continues and further arrests are expected.
Earlier this year, Nottinghamshire County Council welcomed proposals for a blanket ban on so called ‘legal highs’ as outlined in the Queen’s Speech.
Councillor Glynn Gilfoyle, Chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council's Community Safety Committee, said: “Nottinghamshire County Council Trading Standards team is working with Nottinghamshire Police, National Trading Standards Scambuster TeamEast Midlands and other local partners to use the legislation currently in place to tackle the sale of NPS and will continue with our efforts to remove them from circulation.
“We are concerned that people are putting their lives at risk by consuming untested chemicals, that unscrupulous traders continue to sell.”
Lord Toby Harris, chair, National Trading Standards, said:
“These so-called 'legal highs' would be better called 'potentially lethal highs' and this investigation sends a strong signal that we will not sit back while criminals manufacture and supply products that put people in harm’s way.
“Consumer safety is a top priority for National Trading Standards and that is why these arrests are so important. I commend the National Trading Standards Scambuster Team East Midlands and all other parties involved in this operation.”
Notes to Editors
NPS are synthetic compounds which are colloquially called “legal highs”. They were defined in 2011 by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), the Government’s advisory body as;
“….psychoactive drugs which are not prohibited by the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs or by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, and which people in the UK are seeking for intoxicant use”.
The Office for National Statistics states that there were 52 deaths related to drug poisoning involving NPS by specific substance for deaths registered in 2012 and the Local Government Association estimating shows there were 60 deaths in 2013. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) (the Government’s independent statutory drug advisers) advise that the short‐term harms of NPS can include paranoia, psychosis and seizures and that their long‐term harms are often unknown.
Most if not all of these deaths are among the student population/ youth population as these substances are being marketed as “legal” thereby giving the impression they are safe and legal to use, unlike other substance covered by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
The General Products Safety Regulations 2005 – place an obligation on producers to only place safe products on the market.
GAIN is the Government Agency Intelligence Network. GAIN brings together intelligence and investigation staff mainly, but not exclusively, from public sector enforcement agencies to tackle serious and organised crime through an effective partnership network and provides a mechanism at a regional level for agencies to lawfully share information, participate in joint enforcement action, exploit opportunities for joint training and sharing resources all designed to reduce the threat, risk and harm to individuals, businesses and communities associated to such criminality.
GAIN has a full-time coordinator based within each of the 10 Regional Organised Crime Units in England and Wales which enhances each regions ability to tackle serious and organised crime by sharing knowledge and the appropriate use of a range of powers available to GAIN partners to disrupt criminal activity, identify and seize the proceeds of crime.
About National Trading Standards
- The National Trading Standards Board is a group of senior and experienced local government heads of trading standards, representing all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board has been set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards.
The National Trading Standards Board provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally.
- The National Trading Standards Board funds the Scambuster Teams that target rogue trading, doorstep crime and scams, providing support across England and Wales through eight regionally based teams:
1.Central England Trading Standards Authorities (CeNTSA)
2.North East Trading Standards Authorities (NETSA)
3.Trading Standards East Midlands (TSEM)
4.Trading Standards North West (TSNW)
5.Tri Region Scambusters (TRS), on behalf of Trading Standards South East Ltd (TSSEL), East of England Trading Standards Association (EETSA) and London Trading Standards Association (LoTSA)
6.Trading Standards Partnership South West (SWERCOTS)
7.Yorkshire and Humber Trading Standards Group (YAHTSG) and
8.Wales Heads of Trading Standards (WHoTS)
There are separate arrangements in place in Scotland.
For more information please visit www.nationaltradingstandards.uk