Police fear legal high street stalls may appear in Chesterfield

Legal highs.
Legal highs.

Police have voiced concern about the possibility of traders setting up street stalls to sell legal highs in Chesterfield.

The Derbyshire Times revealed yesterday that Chesterfield shop Reefer had stopped selling legal highs with immediate effect.

The store will soon close in its current form and reopen under a new name as part of an agreement which will see it banned from selling the controversial substances in the future.

In a letter to Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins, Inspector John Turner, of Chesterfield police station, said: “We are aware of the possibility of pop up stalls appearing on the street for short periods (to sell legal highs).

“Already in partnership with Chesterfield Borough Council we are exploring street trading offences should this occur.”

In the letter, Insp Turner also explained: “Reefer is no longer selling legal highs with immediate effect. This is by agreement of the tenant and landlord.

“Furthermore, on April 7, the lease will expire by agreement of both parties.

“A new tenant will be taking over the business, which, in the main, will remain similar with the following changes: a change of name above the door; it will be written into the lease that the sale of legal highs is excluded; clear signage will indicate that the substances are not available.

“This has followed a great deal of work behind the scenes by the borough council and police and has been an excellent example of partnership working.

“It is our view that much of the anti-social behaviour in Chesterfield town centre is associated with the use of legal highs.

“While people can still buy online or on the street, it is less likely that the substances will be taken in the town centre from now on.

“This will have a huge impact on the area in respect of anti-social behaviour.”

Mr Perkins said: “I am absolutely delighted to hear that Reefer will no longer be selling legal highs.

“This is a significant step forward in combatting anti-social behaviour in the town centre and a triumph for partnership working.

“I will be continuing to press the case in Parliament so that councils have real power in the future to close down organisations that try to peddle these goods.

“In the meantime I look forward to a safer, calmer town centre where our businesses can flourish unhindered.”

A special investigation by the Derbyshire Times last summer revealed how shopkeepers feared parts of Chesterfield town centre had become ‘no-go’ zones – with anti-social behaviour and drug use rife.

Business boss Bridget Jones said at the time: “People won’t come up to this area of the town because they are ruining it.

“This behaviour isn’t just a one off – it happens all the time and we have just had enough.”

Legal highs produce similar effects to illegal drugs like cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis.

The owner of Reefer, based in Knifesmithgate, previously told the Derbyshire Times that the shop operated a strict ID policy and warned that legal highs were not for human consumption.