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Leeds spice: How the drug has taken hold in towns and cities around the country

Leeds is far from alone when it comes to people openly taking spice on the city’s streets and all the other issues that can come along with that.

Among the first places to hit the national headlines was Manchester, which is now so widely associated with the drug that people are reportedly travelling there from across the country on the ‘spice trail’.

Spice users slumped on the street in Sheffield, where a dedicated clinic has been set up in response.

Spice users slumped on the street in Sheffield, where a dedicated clinic has been set up in response.

Read more: How rise in use of spice is having an impact in Leeds city centre

Images and videos were shared back in spring 2017 of people frozen like statues or collapsed in Piccadilly Gardens.

Similar scenes have since become a familiar sight in towns and cities such as Wrexham, Blackpool, Birmingham and Hull.

And it was Doncaster which found itself in the national spotlight last week when it was reported that some locals had taken to calling the South Yorkshire town ‘spice-caster’.

All this week, the YEP is focusing on spice and the impact the drug is having on people in our city.

All this week, the YEP is focusing on spice and the impact the drug is having on people in our city.

A ‘robust’ partnership has been set up there to help tackle rough sleeping, drug abuse and anti-social behaviour.

Doncaster Council, South Yorkshire Police, St Leger Homes and members of the Doncaster Business Forum have all come together to see what can be done to help those who are taking spice.

It follows a grassroots campaign by business owner Dominic Gibbs, who led calls for real action by authorities.

Read more: Businessman's campaign results in fresh action plan to tackle drug use in Doncaster town centre

The Doncaster Central Neighbourhood Policing Team said it had 10 officers and four PCSOs dedicated to tackling spice, drug dealing and begging.

Between them, they spent 5,290 hours on the beat during a recent six-week period.

The team said they had arrested 19 suspects and searched 28 people in relation to the use and dealing of spice, while two well-known individuals were serving prison sentences for offences associated with spice use and commercial burglaries.

Similar issues have also been reported in Sheffield, where a specialist spice clinic has been opened by one service in direct response to the problem.

Read more: Hard work of police and drug workers continuing to rid Sheffield of Spice

Workers at the clinic estimated that around 200 people were using the drug in and around Sheffield city centre – about 0.03 per cent of the population of the city.

As more and more communities are blighted by the effects of this drug, political pressure is also growing.

A group of police and crime commissioners (PCCs) last month called on the government to reclassify spice as a Class A substance.

An open letter from Lincolnshire PCC Marc Jones said: “The wide-scale abuse of these debilitating drugs within towns, cities and even villages across the UK is one of the most severe public health issue we have faced in decades.”