The Shetland Area Licensing Board has agreed to include extra measures to crack down on the sale of new psychoactive substances at music festivals and other public entertainment events.
A letter from the Scottish government has been received from the board, heading into the summer festival season, suggesting that licensing boards should look at an additional condition when granting occasional licences for music festivals and other entertainment events. The stipulation means organisers will use their “best endeavours” to prevent the sale of NPS, also known as “legal highs”, at the event.
Government guidance, backed by the board, explained this could include searches on entry, stating no NPS on tickets and rejecting stalls wanting to sell the drugs.
In May the Home Office published the Psychoactive Substances Bill, which will create a blanket ban on the substances from April next year.
Members of the meeting on Tuesday heard from the police and NHS Shetland about the dangers and increasing problems of NPS in Shetland.
In a briefing note from director of public health Sarah Taylor, the board was told Shetland had seen a marked increase in NPS over the last couple of years, both in hospital presentations and at drug treatment services.
A working group had been set up in response providing a greater understanding of NPS and trends.
Hospital treatment was difficult because little was known about the substances being taken and patients were unable to say what they had consumed
Dr Taylor said: “More often than not it is more than one substance that has been consumed, including alcohol.”
She said anecdotally the public were not well educated on NPS and in 2013 a local shop was accidentally selling NPS and was unaware of what it was being purchased for.
“A number of recent drug related deaths in Shetland have NPS factoring in the death and have been known to be the main contributor to one,” she added.
NHS Shetland drug and alcohol development officer Karen Smith said they had been working in partnership with the police to make sure local shops were not selling NPS.
She added that from a health perspective, users had problems with breathing, chest pains, palpitations, vomiting and disorientation.
• For more see tomorrow’s Shetland Times