‘Help us beat zombie drugs’

Marc Jones - Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner. EMN-180409-101125001
Marc Jones - Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner. EMN-180409-101125001

Lincolnshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner is urging the Government to take action on synthetic “zombie” drugs which he fears pose the “most severe public health issue we have faced in decades”.

With the support of 19 other Conservative PCC’s from across the UK, PCC Marc Jones has penned an open letter in which he appeals to Home Office ministers to reclassify drugs, such as Spice, to Grade A so dealers are treated with the same severity as those dealing in heroin.

The commissioners have asked for the Government to create a strategy to deal specifically with synthetic drugs to provide “an effective and consistent approach” and to improve the level of support for those hooked on the drugs.

They point out these so-called “zombie drugs” have effects on the individual and the community that are much worse than cannabis, and that police forces were being forced to take the lead in fighting the rising tide of use with little or no support from other agencies.

The letter supports the Government’s wish to tackle illegal substance misuse in general, but believes reclassifying synthetic drugs would be an important step in that battle.

“The drugs are often referred to as ‘zombie drugs’ due to the incapacitating and unpredictable psychoactive effects which manifest once taken; users are increasingly seen slumped on the streets in a state of semi consciousness, often passed out, sometimes aggressive and always highly unpredictable,” writes Mr Jones.

“The widescale abuse of these debilitating drugs within towns, cities and even villages across the UK is one of the most severe public health issues we have faced in decades.

“We would urge that synthetic cannabinoid products are reclassified from Class B to Class A. The physical and psychological effects these substances have on their users are on a much more extreme scale to those of cannabis.

“In practice, they are more comparable with Class A drugs such as heroin, and it is therefore imperative that it and the dealers who peddle this misery are treated with the same severity and concern. It is also vital that the level of support to those hooked on Spice is placed firmly on the agenda, including pathways away from criminalising the vulnerable where possible and ensuring appropriate services are in place to treat their addiction.”

Mr Jones pointed out synthetic drugs are being increasingly linked to deaths, with 27 in 2016 according to the Office for National Statistics and the number of ambulance calls involving these psychoactive drugs has reached 233 in four months across Lincolnshire.