Manchester

Manchester police deal with 31 Spice-related calls in 24 hours

Man slumped in doorway in Manchester with policeman nearby
Image caption Extra police patrolled the Piccadilly area of Manchester city centre on Sunday

Concerns over an increase in anti-social behaviour fuelled by former legal high spice - said to leave users in a "zombie-like" state - has prompted a police crackdown in Manchester.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said it received 31 calls in 24 hours after it launched a two-day banning order in the city centre.

Most of the calls related to the Piccadilly area, police said.

The force said it had put extra patrols in place.

Police said 14 of the calls it had received were about people collapsing.

One man was arrested in Piccadilly Gardens, an area where Spice users are said to congregate which has been branded "dystopian" by the Manchester Evening News.

Effects of the synthetic drug can be extreme, causing hallucinations, psychosis, muscle weakness and paranoia.

In March, North West Ambulance Service warned there had been a surge in calls related to Spice, which was leaving users in a "zombie-like" state.

Image caption Additional officers have been deployed to the Piccadilly area because of concerns about the use of Spice

The crackdown comes as a homeless man died in Birmingham after smoking a different synthetic drug, Black Mamba, sparking fears of a potentially lethal batch of the former legal high.

'Chaotic and anti-social'

A statement from GMP said between 19:45 GMT on Friday and 19:45 GMT on Saturday, the force received 31 calls which may be related to Spice in the city centre alone.

Two men were arrested and three people were given dispersal notices on Sunday following Spice-related anti-social behaviour, GMP said.

One of the men, 19, was arrested for breaching his dispersal notice and on suspicion of assaulting a medic who was treating him for Spice-related issues on Friday in Piccadilly Gardens.

The other man, 24, who police said "is a known Spice user", was held for breaching a civil injunction, including a city ban.

Police said 51 arrests have been made in the last three weeks, including 20 suspected Spice dealers, under the force's crackdown on supply of the drug - named Operation Mandera.

Insp Phil Spurgeon said an "increased level" of resources will continue to be focused on this issue in the Piccadilly area.

"While our focus is firmly on dealers, we are also committed to tackling chaotic and anti-social Spice users, because of their impact on the wider community and emergency services", he said.

Image copyright Getty Images

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