Crackdown on NPS sales

Aberdeen City Council Trading Standards Service has played its part in Operation Alexander, the pan-Scotland operation targeting retailers of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS).

This operation was devised following the successful application by the Crown Office in October 2015 on behalf of Edinburgh City Council Trading Standards to have a quantity of NPS forfeited under the General Product Safety Regulations 2005.

Trading Standards and officers from Police Scotland visited NPS retailers across Scotland and seized 7,323 individual packets of NPS with an approximate retail value of £146,000. In Aberdeen, a total of 5,744 individual packets of NPS were seized with an estimated retail value of more than £100,000.

The process now begins determine how many of these feature in the Edinburgh Forfeiture Order. Those which are not will be sent for testing to determine if they, too, are dangerous products.

Each of the owners of all the businesses have been visited again and advised in writing as to their responsibilities and liabilities under the 2005 regulations and further advised not to restock their premises with NPS. Penalties for offences in connection with the sale of dangerous products can be up to 12 months imprisonment, or a fine of up to £20,000, or both.

Aberdeen City Council Communities, Housing and Infrastructure vice convener Councillor Gordon Graham said: "This is a hugely important step in getting rid of these substances from local shops. They have a devastating effect on individuals as well as communities, and there is a huge groundswell of public support for their removal.

"Thanks to the work done by Trading Standards and Police Scotland in Edinburgh, we are now in a position to take action against these retailers who are clearly aware of the dangers these products pose to their customers because of how they consume them but they carry on selling them regardless.

"Hopefully, on the back of this joint operation the game will be up.'

Aberdeen City Council's Trading Standards manager Graeme Paton added: 'This operation has been some time in the planning and required co-ordination between colleagues in Trading Standards and Police Scotland across the country. In Aberdeen, these plans seem to have gone smoothly resulting in a substantial seizure of NPS."

Inspector David Howieson, of the City Centre Community Policing Team, said: "We welcome the action taken, along with Trading Standards officers, to disrupt and deter the circulation of new psychoactive substances in our community. This work complements the previous actions we have taken under ASB legislation to address our community's serious concerns in relation to the sale and effects of NPS products.

"We will take every opportunity to ensure that people know that NPS, misleadingly called legal highs, are incredibly dangerous substances and businesses selling NPS must realise that they are placing people at risk.

"If you are tempted to try NPS, remember that you cannot know what mixture of chemicals you are consuming and equally there is no way of knowing what these substances may do to your body. Just because they are labelled as legal doesn't mean they are safe – they can contain toxic chemicals and they can kill.

"We will continue to work with our partners to carry out visits to premises selling these products to remove these harmful items from circulation."