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Published: 15 November 2011

Policing newly controlled psychoactive substances

Detailed guidance on policing newly controlled psychoactive substances, in particular, synthetic cannabinoids, piperazines and cathinones as well as GBL and 1,4-butanediol, was issued to police forces in the United Kingdom in 2010 (ACPO, 2010). The guidance provides information on the appearance, use patterns, effects and risks of the drugs and their manual handling. The guidance recommends a consistent national approach to policing the possession and distribution of such substances. The need for forensic analysis for the correct identification and the required standard of evidence is recognised. Emphasis is placed on the importance of a joint approach between the police and local authorities in policing head shops. Police visits to head shops are encouraged, in order to gather information and to provide information to the proprietors and to give them the opportunity to hand over controlled substances. For this purpose, a standardised letter is suggested, urging the shop owner to review the measures in place and to ensure that they comply with the law.

ACPO (2010), Guidance on policing new psychoactive substances (formerly legal highs), Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, London.

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