Strong opposition to sale of ‘legal highs’

An online campaign against the sale of NPS in Forfar is gaining momentum.
An online campaign against the sale of NPS in Forfar is gaining momentum.

The father of a Forfar teenager who collapsed after taking a legal high has condemned the opening of a shop in the town selling the substances.

Fears that a shop supplying new psychoactive substances (NPS) is about to open on North Street has, since the weekend, sparked an online protest campaign which has attracted hundreds of supporters.

At the time of going to press, the Forfar Against Legal High Shop Opening Facebook page, which was set up on Sunday, had attracted more than 550 members while a linked petition at Change.com had more than 1,000 signatures.

The man, who asked not to be named, spoke to the Dispatch and Herald after his son collapsed in October during a visit to a local funfair. The teenager had taken NPS, fallen ill and managed to phone his parents before collapsing and being taken to hospital.

He said: “I talked about that so people would know what these things are like, but people just haven’t listened. If they had, this shop wouldn’t be opening.

“It shouldn’t be happening, not in Forfar and not with what has happened in the past. I’m mad that people are getting away with this. We’ve been lucky in Forfar so far but that can only go on so long.”

Opponents of the shop have been alarmed by its location on North Street near a nightclub, close to two pubs, the courthouse and on what is a busy route for pupils walking to and from Forfar Academy.

Adele Douglas Speirs, a youth worker at The Pitstop who started the Facebook group, said she has experience of how damaging the substances can be both physically and mentally.

She said: “I know people who used to take it so I know first-hand how dangerous they are and the mental health problems they can cause.

“I run health promotion sessions at The Pitstop every Tuesday so will be sitting down and speaking to the young people and advising them of the dangers.”

Adele and other group members intend to go door to door to collect signatures for the petition.

The campaign has gained the support of local councillors who have already met with members of the community safety team, trading standards and local police.

Councillor Glennis Middleton said: “This shop would be selling death and destruction and there’s a very strong feeling in the town. We want to do everything we can to support the different agencies involved and the community.”

Councillor Lynne Devine also said NPS should be avoided.

She said: “People don’t know what they’re taking or what effect it will have. If anyone is considering taking this, just don’t.”

An Angus Council spokeswoman also said the Angus Alcohol and Drugs Partnership is also working to raise awareness of the effects of NPS by supporting a number of projects involving all sections of the community including teachers, parents and young people.