LONDON, January 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --
Angelus, the only UK charity dedicated to raising awareness of the risks from 'legal highs', has said drugs education is now "at risk" status. The law banning the supply and sale of 'legal highs' will soon be in place. But tomorrow in Parliament the Government will instruct its MPs to vote down improvements in drug education.
Angelus has welcomed the publication of the Psychoactive Substances Bill. It is anticipated these measures will disrupt the NPS market considerably and reduce harms. Angelus has also made clear the law alone would not work; proper drugs education is vital to alert young people of the risks of taking 'legal highs'.
The Report and Third Stages of the Psychoactive Substances Bill will be debated in Parliament tomorrow. There are several amendments to the new law, which would strengthen the provision of drugs education but are likely to be voted against by the Government.
Angelus supports the legislation as a marked improvement over the easy availability of NPS. However, the Government appears to have no intention of allocating any budget to public awareness of legal highs around the Bill and more generally in schools. It is the responsibility of Departments to ensure young people are informed of the harms of 'legal highs' and from April, purchasing them from a foreign website could incur a prison sentence of up to seven years.
Angelus supports a much greater commitment from central and local Government, schools and universities, to give the education which young people need to stay safe from these unpredictable substances.
Chief Executive of Angelus, Jan King said, "Most parents would expect schools to at least be teaching their children the basics about drugs. The sad truth is they aren't. The world of drugs in Britain has just undergone a revolution and schools are lagging behind on knowledge. Drugs education has reached "at risk" status. The Government has a responsibility, on grounds of public safety, to help schools get this vital information out to the children.
"The opportunities on drug awareness arising from the new law on 'legal highs' should not be squandered by such penny-pinching. A little information can be a lifesaver. Young people need to be taught about the risks, and how to stay safe."
Notes to editors:
- Maryon Stewart lost her 21 year old daughter, Hester, to GBL in 2009 and established the Angelus Foundation. It is the only drugs charity dedicated to combating legal highs and club drugs. Angelus previously launched a national campaign including the website http://www.whynotfindout.org which includes several films informing young people about how to stay safe. There is also a site for families http://www.angelusfoundation.org.uk where parents can download a free guide to 'Legal Highs' and how to speak to their children about them.
- The Psychoactive Substances Bill has reached its Report and Third Stages in the House of Commons. The Bill will impose a blanket ban on 'legal highs' and will disrupt the market considerably.
- Currently only 15% of schools teach drugs and alcohol education for one hour or more per term (Mentor figures). This should be the minimum standard for all schools.
- Angelus has produced several films making young people more aware of the harms and unpredictability of substances such as Gogaine, Clockwork Orange, Pink Panther and Charley Sheen. Their schools film has been shown to strongly influence attitudes - 95% of those who viewed it away from trying 'legal highs'.
SOURCE The Angelus Foundation