Cross Party Working Group on New Psychoactive Substances

A report summarising the work of the New Psychoactive Substances (NPS)Cross Party Working Group and recommendations for further action.

7. Trading Standards

7.1 Members heard from Craig McClue, Trading Standards Scotland, on the range of work being taken forward by Trading Standards Services to tackle the sale and supply of NPS through the use of General Product Safety Regulations 2005, Operation Alexander and partnership working. The CPWG also heard from members of Police Scotland who outlined the work being undertaken in the Angus area.

Trading Standards and Operation Alexander

7.2 The NPS Expert Review Group recommended a tool-kit and operational guidance should be developed with appropriate stakeholders to assist frontline trading standards staff tackle NPS. By applying the General Product Safety Regulations 2005, Trading Standards Services can place sellers of NPS on notice that the products they are selling fail the legislation's main rule, known as 'the general safety requirement'.

7.3 In December 2015, 19 local authorities across Scotland participated in Operation Alexander, co-ordinated enforcement action led by Trading Standards Services against NPS suppliers. The operation was a partnership between Trading Standards Scotland, the Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland, Police Scotland and the Scottish Government.

7.4 Trading Standards and enforcement partners made initial visits to 53 suspected NPS suppliers using powers of entry and inspection. The suppliers were placed on notice that the products they were selling were suspected as being NPS and officers were seeking co-operation in removing them from the market. Follow-up visits were carried out by Trading Standards officers and suppliers were urged to voluntarily surrender any stocks of 'unsafe' products for destruction. Where they failed to do so powers were used to seize the stock and a legal suspension was placed on further supply.

7.5 This action resulted in over £150,000 worth of NPS products being either seized or surrendered to local authority Trading Standards Services. The testing of these products by the SPA Forensic Services identified over 50 new compounds.

7.6 Officers also gathered intelligence on the NPS market through data capture forms to allow a comprehensive picture to be formed. An intelligence report will be shared with appropriate stakeholders to help inform enforcement actions in the run up to the change in legislation.

Police Scotland and Tackling NPS in Angus

7.7 Operation Carinate is an on-going initiative created to target individuals and premises that sell NPS and discourage people from buying and using these substances. It has seen officers utilising a range of police powers at commercial premises across Angus. This has led to shops in the Angus area selling NPS to close down.

7.8 Police Scotland also work closely with the Tayside Intensive Support Service project, which identifies reoffenders involved in drugs and NPS, and supports them into services. It helps them to make positive changes to their behaviour, often by addressing lifestyle issues. The participants voluntarily sign up to an agreement that gives them access to multi-agency support to help steer them away from substance abuse and other negative influences in their lives.

Key Observations and Conclusions

7.9 In considering the action taken by Trading Standards Services the CPWG agreed that the use of the General Product Safety Regulations 2005, Trading Standards tool-kit and a coordinated partnership approach has resulted in a reduction in NPS suppliers on the high street in Scotland. This work should be commended and Operation Alexander should be highlighted as a model of good practice and used as an example to other local authorities in tackling NPS.

7.10 The CPWG also complimented the work taken forward in Angus by Police Scotland. Members recognised that the closure in head shops in the Angus area has resulted in an apparent reduction in the number of younger NPS users. However, it was noted that there is still concern in the numbers of older NPS users and the number of calls received in relation to this group.

7.11 Members concluded that this action should continue in the lead up to the new legislation coming into effect. Support should be provided to ADPs in preparing for the challenges the introduction of the UK-wide Psychoactive Substances Act will bring. Support on how to treat service user needs and associated health harms, due to withdrawal symptoms or potential bulk buying and overdosing, should be provided.


Email: Vicky Carmichael

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