Tyne & Wear

Newcastle task force 'cuts legal highs' call outs

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Media captionCrackdown on legal highs is "paying off"

A task force set up to deal with the problem of so-called legal highs in Newcastle has led to a drop in incidents, Northumbria Police has said.

The initiative between police, the North East Ambulance Service and Newcastle City Council, involved targeting sellers and educational work.

It followed what police described as an "alarming rise" in the number of people becoming ill after taking them.

In February there were 85 police callouts as opposed to 176 in January.

Calls to the North East Ambulance Service also dropped by 63% - from 263 in January down to 97 in February.

Supt Richard Jackson, of Northumbria Police, welcomed the drop but said there were "no plans to let up yet".

He said: "The aim of the task force was to find those responsible for selling legal highs and do as much as we could to make life difficult for them to do so.

"The feedback we are getting from the streets is that legal highs have become harder to buy than ever before."

He said they would continue to "target these dealers and take action" in the fight against the trade in legal highs on Newcastle's streets.

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