Six arrests as Kirkby Stephen police tackle 'legal highs'

FOUR Kirkby Stephen men and two teenagers were arrested during a police crack down on drugs in the town.

The males, aged between 16 and 41, were arrested in an operation involving around 30 officers, including specialist search and entry teams, dog handlers and a crime scene investigator.

Three warrants were simultaneously executed on March 2 and two further addresses were searched the following day.

All six were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply the class B controlled drug Mephedrone, which is widely known as MCAT. They were bailed until June.

A police spokesman said officers in Kirkby Stephen have been working throughout the last week to tackle the issues around legal highs and illegal drugs in the local community.

Serg Jenny Beattie: “Kirkby Stephen is a beautiful market town and the residents are rightly proud of its long standing community. Though Cumbria remains a safe place to visit and live, there is a small minority of people in Eden who use and supply illegal drugs.

“We are committed to working in partnership with local communities to stamp out illegal drugs and encourage people to report what they see and hear; the operation proves that if you tell the police about problems where you live, they will act positively.”

Eden police officers and Community Support Officers also joined forces with the NHS to deliver a strong message to youngsters about the dangers of so-called legal highs during citizenship lessons at Kirkby Stephen Grammar School.

Detective Chief Inspector Lesley Hanson said “These substances pose a very real risk to the communities of Cumbria, and we are eager to ensure that those who may be tempted to use them fully understand all the potential consequences.

“Young people wrongly assume that these substances are safe because they are currently or have previously been legal. This couldn’t be further from the truth as no-one knows what the substances are mixed with, how they react with alcohol or other drugs or the long term effects.”

One such psychoactive drug, which despite being illegal since April 2010, is still being used by young people, is Mephedrone, which is also known as Bubble, MCAT, Meow Meow and Drone. It is generally sold as a white powder, but can also be found in a capsule or pill form.

“People are attracted to Mephedrone as it has similar effects to ecstasy or amphetamine but as with all of these substances, the effects can be unpredictable,” DCI Hanson said.

“Some people who have used the substance have been rushed to hospital with breathing difficulties, dizziness, nose bleeds, increased heart rates, depression, psychosis and diarrhoea. Others have experienced heart failure, fallen into a coma and tragically died.

“In Cumbria, we want to do all we can to educate our communities, so we are teaming up with experts around the county to expose the extent of the known risks to school children.

“Only by engaging in dialogue with young people and being open and honest about the effect drug use has on society, people’s health and the implications for their future careers and lifestyles, can we hope to prevent more young people from being pulled into the world of drug addiction. This work however cannot be done alone; it's vital that we get communities, parents, schools and young people on board to help spread this message and protect young people as a result.”

Gill Green, Director of Operations and Nursing at Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, added: “We strongly urge people not to take these substances, and this joint initiative will send a strong message to young people about the risks involved. Educating young people about the dangers is so important and through engaging with them we can make them aware of the risks before it’s too late.

“People must realise that taking these ‘legal highs’ exposes you to a variety of potentially life threatening medical conditions, and can lead to permanent psychological or physical damage, as well as death. It is simply not worth the risk to your health.”

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