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Vera Baird QC raises concerns about “legal high” substances with Home Secretary

Labour candidate calls for clearer labelling on hazardous substances.

Vera Baird QC, Labour’s candidate for Northumbria Police & Crime Commissioner has today written to the Home Secretary, Theresa May over her concerns at so-called “legal high” substances. This follows the recent hospitalisation of two children in Tyne and Wear following the use of a substance sold under the name “Annihilation”.

In her letter to Ms May, Vera Baird says:

“I am generally worried that two local young people were able to buy it and that it is readily available so cheaply.”

“Whilst understanding that making substances unlawful can enhance their attraction, it is evident that clearer labelling required. I would suggest that we move into a new era of labelling hazardous substances such as these and do not use polite terminology such as "can damage your health" but use language that will transmit the idea of real danger to a young person.”

Vera Baird will also be writing to Trading Standards in every local authority across Tyne and Wear & Northumberland asking for reassurances on how they plan to work with shop-keepers to reduce the risk to young people.

Vera Baird said:

“The investigation undertaken by the Newcastle Evening Chronicle has uncovered some deeply worrying facts. We need to make sure our young people and shop-keepers are fully aware of the dangers of these products.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Dear Theresa

I attach a copy of the Newcastle Evening Chronicle’s account of two apparently dangerous experiences that local children had through dabbling with a herbal incense substance known as “Annihilation”.

A simple internet search of this substance on the internet and reveals that it is advertised with terms such as "fantastic legal high", "blow your mind away" and it is priced at something less than the price of cigarettes.

Some of the advertisements and the test purchase made in Newcastle by the Chronicle’s journalist both showed that substance was labelled "Not for Human consumption".  However this is wholly inconsistent with the advertising of it as a "legal high", leaving me extremely concerned.

The immediate point is whether trading standards ought to make clear that inhalation, which it seems is the means of experiencing the high, is dangerous. Indeed there needs to be some way of describing clearly on the product that “the high” and “the danger” are inseparable.

I am generally worried that two local young people were able to buy it and that it is readily available so cheaply.

Whilst understanding that making substances unlawful can enhance their attraction, it is evident that clearer labelling required. I would suggest that we move into a new era of labelling hazardous substances such as these and do not use polite terminology such as "can damage your health" but use language that will transmit the idea of real danger to a young person. 

I would be grateful for your comments on how the government proposes to tackle this problem.

Yours sincerely,



Vera Baird QC
Labour Candidate for Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner

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