A CHESHIRE police chief has expressed his concerns over the policing challenges posed by drugs called legal highs.

John Dwyer: "It has been brought to my attention that there are people in Cheshire, of all ages, willing to take the risks of taking these drugs to get a buzz.

"Just because a substance is sold as legal, doesn’t mean that it’s safe, you can’t really be sure what’s in a legal high or what affect it’s likely to have.

"The fact that the substances have been directly linked to emergency hospital admissions and, in some cases, deaths has received wide publicity but I wonder whether users have thought through the less well known consequences.

“When mixed with alcohol or medication prescribed for mental illness, they are having a particularly adverse impact."

Police officers have been working closely with Trading Standards and the health service to tackle the issue.

The navigate team who deal with persistent and prolific offenders have noticed that substance abusers have changed their drug of choice from skunk cannabis or cocaine to legal highs.

One young offender can no longer leave home due to psychosis and paranoia. He is very depressed and hears voices in his head.

He has been referred for professional treatment.

A licensing officer has reported an increased use of legal highs during the weekend in the bars and clubs, which is having a knock on effect on levels of crime.

Mr Dwyer added: "Legal highs have consequences for the health service but are also placing an unnecessary burden on the police service.

“ I welcome the focus and attention this issue is receiving from the Constabulary but I want to see more done nationally to raise awareness about the issue so that people are fully aware of the consequences before they make a decision that could change their life forever."