MP’s ‘face jail or stop trading’ warning for legal high shops

Labour Chief Whip Rosie Winterton.Pic: Ian Nicholson/PA Wire
Labour Chief Whip Rosie Winterton.Pic: Ian Nicholson/PA Wire

A Doncaster MP has warned the borough’s remaining ‘legal high’ shops they should shut down – or face jail.

A blanket ban on the drugs, known officially as psychoactive substances, is step a closer following a law-making session in Parliament this week.

Rosie Winterton was singled out for praise by the Police Minister during the debate for her efforts to outlaw the substances.

The Doncaster Central MP has campaigned for a ban, raising the matter with Home Secretary Theresa May and the police.

Ms Winterton said: “The Psychoactive Substances Bill would make selling the drugs illegal as soon as it is passed by Parliament.

“It would bar the production, distribution, sale and supply of legal highs – meaning Doncaster would immediately be rid of the menace of legal highs.”

Last week, Ms Winterton welcomed news that legal highs seized from the town centre shop Heads of Donny were to be destroyed.

Doncaster Council had seized close to 300 packets following partnership work with South Yorkshire Police.

The MP said: “These substances are chemically similar to the dangerous substances which are already illegal.

“At the moment, the law takes time to catch up with each new substance as it is developed, meaning potentially lethal drugs are readily available. Lives have and are being wrecked, here in Doncaster and around the country. It is time for action and the new laws will give the authorities the necessary powers to take that action.”

Instead of forcing each new legal high to be individually banned as they are created and sold, the bill creates sweeping new powers to make all psychoactive substances illegal with listed exceptions.

Police Minister Mike Penning thanked Ms Winterton for her co-operation during the debate, adding that she had ‘spoken to me extensively about the bill’.

Shadow Public Health Minister Andrew Gwynne also praised the Doncaster MP.

He said: “I wish to echo the Minister’s words in opening by congratulating the work of my right honourable friend, the Opposition Chief Whip, who has long championed this campaign.”

Doncaster’s mayor – Ros Jones – is also backing the new laws.

Mr Penning said in the last year 129 people died in this country because of what they thought was a legal, safe high.

He added: “The bill is a broad piece of legislation, and I freely admit it is new to this House, as we are bringing in a blanket ban.

“The reason we are doing that is simply that we have been chasing the chemists from around the world for too long. We have attempted to ban 500 substances in this bracket, but then they have tweaked the formulas and the next minute we are back in the same position again.”