Police appeal for help catching dealers pushing M-Cat drug
FOR years Mephedrone – AKA M-Cat – was marketed as a ‘legal high’ and sold over the Internet.
But last April, Government ruled it should be made an illegal Class B under the Misuse of Drugs Act, following the tragic death of Scunthorpe teenagers, Louis Wainwright, 18, and Nicholas Smith, 19.
It was initially thought they had taken M-Cat, but months later an inquest revealed that they in fact, hadn’t, and they had died as a result of an accidental overdose of alcohol and the heroin substitute methadone.
Despite the new status of M-Cat, the number of young people taking the white-powdered substance has rocketed in North East Lincolnshire.
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Now, as part of the Grimsby Telegraph and Young People Support Service’s campaign, Do You Know Enough? a police appeal to catch the dealers responsible for supplying the potentially-lethal substance around the borough has been launched. Faye Preston reports.
POLICE officers in North East Lincolnshire have made an appeal to the public to help them catch dealers of M-Cat as the number of youngsters becoming hooked on the substance hits an all-time high.
Despite becoming illegal in April of last year, there has been a "noticeable increase" in the number of young people being held in custody who are also under the influence of M-Cat.
As reported, health professionals have also seen a marked increase in youngsters seeking their help and have joined the Grimsby Telegraph's campaign to make parents and children aware of the potential dangers.
The drug is legally on par with amphetamines such as speed, and being caught in possession of it could land someone in jail for up to 14 years.
Now Humberside Police are appealing to the public for information about who is dealing in a bid to remove the dangerous substance from our streets.
Sergeant Steve Foster said: "Not many people have been stopped in possession of it and not many people have been convicted of supplying it but we are aware of this emerging trend of people taking M-Cat.
"For us, a lot of people are coming into custody under the influence of M-Cat.
"M-Cat is a new issue so for us it is early days. We have had parents begging us to sort out the dealers and that is what we want to do. But in order for us to do that, we need information. We need members of the public to contact us with information, suspicions so we can act on it."
Currently a 17-year-old boy – who cannot be named for legal reasons – is in custody for possession with intent to supply and is serving a four-month detention and training order.
But because it is only illegal to be in possession of the drug – not taking the drug – arresting people who are known to be using it has proven difficult.
While high on M-Cat, people's behaviour changes dramatically and they can become erratic which has led to petty criminals committing serious crimes such as assault.
Some members of a gang of youths in North East Lincolnshire are reportedly taking M-Cat, during which time the level of crime has escalated.
Sergeant Foster continued: "Initially there has been a group of youths who went from being a very low level of crime to committing quite serious assaults.
"The people committing these crimes are M-Cat users. People from this group of users range from a whole cross section who have gone from causing no trouble to quite a big problem.
"People start acting out of character, committing criminal offences which they wouldn't do if they weren't under the influence.
"We are building up a picture of what people are telling us. The number of convictions is very small but from talking to people we realise there is a bigger problem.
"Without people being in possession of it we cannot make arrests. We need to find the people who are in possession of it."
Since our Do You Know Enough? campaign launched on Monday, we have already received phone calls from concerned parents – and expect to get more during our online anonymous forum tonight at 4pm with Dave Cole from Nest.
One woman, who did not want to be named, said: "My 13-year-old daughter used to go to People's Park in the evening but she suddenly stopped and when I asked her why, she said it was because there are drug dealers using bully-boy tactics to sell the drug.
"I had never even heard of it so to hear that she could be exposed to that was quite frightening. She said it was rife in People's Park and that it isn't only weekends – it is happening every night.
"Reading the young girl's letter in the Telegraph on Monday was just heart-breaking and it is very worrying for me as a parent."
Now police are urging the public to get behind them and bring a stop to the M-Cat madness among North East Lincolnshire's youngsters.
Sergeant Foster added: "For us this is an emerging issue and something we want to prevent from escalating.
"But we can only do that with the right information.
"We can only arrest someone who is in possession of it so we urge anyone who knows someone who is supplying or who have their suspicions to call us."
Report suspected M-Cat dealers to Humberside Police by dialing 101 or anonymously on 0800 555 111.