£34,000 of ‘legal highs’ seized from shops in Leeds to be destroyed after landmark ruling

Police and trading standards officers sorting through some of the substances at Red Eye
Police and trading standards officers sorting through some of the substances at Red Eye
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Tens of thousands of pounds worth of “dangerous” so-called legal highs seized from shops in Leeds will be destroyed after a landmark court ruling.

Leeds Magistrates’ Court yesterday granted a forfeiture and destruction order for packets of psychoactive substances confiscated from Red Eye, in Otley Road, Headingley, and High Rollaz, in Compton Road, Harehills. The total street value of the seized goods – which mimic the effects of banned drugs like cannabis and cocaine – was more than £34,000.

High Rollaz was found to still be selling 'legal highs' despite a warning in April

High Rollaz was found to still be selling 'legal highs' despite a warning in April

The ruling – the first of its kind in West Yorkshire – comes after the number of West Yorkshire Police incidents linked to such substances rocketed from 28 in 2012-13 to 441 in 2014-15.

David Lodge, head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, which carried out a joint operation with police, said: “We have evidence people are buying these products to get high, and the effects on users can be unpredictable and dangerous.”

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The court heard the two shops failed to stop stocking the substances, which are often marketed as bath crystals, research chemicals and other goods, after a warning in April. Following their seizure in May, tests revealed some were capable of inducing hallucinations and others were highly toxic.

Derek Hallam, for Trading Standards, said: “It is clear from all of the evidence that these are dangerous products.”

Despite their “legal” status, the court ruled they could be destroyed under product safety regulations.

Coun Mark Dobson, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for Safer Leeds, said: “There has been a number of incidents in West Yorkshire where young people have been taken seriously ill after use, which shows just how dangerous taking substances like these can be”.

Supt Sam Millar, head of Safer Leeds, said: “This is a landmark ruling for West Yorkshire and is an excellent result for our ongoing partnership campaign to address the problems.”

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