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24 April 2015, 07:06
A controversial shop in Portsmouth which sells legal highs has been closed by magistrates.
Gypsy Kings Café in Commercial Road can't reopen for three months after police got a court order.
Officers say the substances sold by the shop are extremely dangerous and were causing a rise in anti-social behaviour.
Police secured a closure order at Portsmouth Magistrates court yesterday (Thursday 23 April) under the Anti-social, Crime and Policing Act 2014. Tthis prohibits access to the premises by anyone apart from the police of those authorised to enter by the police.
PC Dan McGarrigle said:
"Today's closure of the premise demonstrates that we take reports of anti-social behaviour seriously. The anti-social behaviour related to this premises has had a detrimental effect on the local community and has had a negative impact on individuals, families and businesses.
"It is my belief that the anti-social behaviour was related to the premise supplying psychoactive substances, commonly known as 'legal highs'. These substances are extremely dangerous and certainly not safe for consumption, this can cause individuals to act otherwise than they normally would when not under the influence of substances, this can result in acting in an anti social manner. The ultimate consequence of taking a psychoactive substance could lead to fatality or serious mental health issues.
"I would encourage anyone who needs help and support around substance misuse to contact the appropriate agency."
Portsmouth City Council are working closely with Hampshire Constabulary on this issue. Dr. Janet Maxwell, Director of Public Health said, "A small minority of people misuse so called legal highs. We are finding a number of people becoming very unwell both physically and mentally due to the use of these products. Just because they are not illegal does not mean they are safe to consume. I would advise any person who might be using these substances or their parent/carers to contact one of the confidential support agencies in the city that can help."
Simon Hayes, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire, said:
"The Magistrates have made the right decision here to close the Gypsy King head shop. It sold products that endanger the lives of anyone who takes them. These substances should not be available at all, let alone on our High Streets. Since it first opened, I have expressed grave concerns about the risk that it posed to the wellbeing of the local community - especially to young people.
"I will continue to press the Government to legislate against new substances coming on to the market and for head shops to be banned or at the very least licensed in recognition of the potency and danger of the substances being sold."
Anyone under 18 years of age can contact the Are You Sorted team at Portsmouth City Council on 02392 841560 and those over 18 can contact the Portsmouth Recovery Hub on 02392 751617.
Alternatively anyone with concerns relating to legal highs can find further information on the FRANK website: http://www.talktofrank.com/drug/legal-highs or the Angelus Foundation http://www.angelusfoundation.com