Seizures of the 'zombie drug' Spice are on the increase in South Yorkshire, according to police chiefs.
Detailed figures have not yet been released by South Yorkshire Police but the force said there has been an increase in seizures since last year and officers are 'determined' to identify dealers and those who produce the drug.
Spice, a man-made cannabis-like drug which also causes hallucinations, is renowned for turning users into a zombie like state, where they effectively freeze until the effects wear off.
The psychoactive substance - formerly a 'legal high' - is now a Class B drug and illegal.
Inspector Matt Collings, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “Since last year, the number of seizures officers have made of the psychoactive substance known as Spice, has increased.
“However, it’s important for me to stress that this substance is still not being recovered or seized in hugely significant quantities, although that’s not to say that this isn’t a concern for us and the other agencies we work closely with in relation to drugs and psychoactive substances.
“The change in law in relation to psychoactive substances, formerly known as ‘legal highs’ has certainly meant we’ve seen a reduction in the sale of these substances, however officers are constantly monitoring this situation and continue to visit retail premises.
"Anecdotally we have seen a slight increase in the use of psychoactive substances amongst some of our most vulnerable communities within Sheffield. This does cause us concern as it could make that person even more vulnerable and potentially put them at greater risk of harm."
Insp Collings said officers across South Yorkshire are gathering intelligence on those involved in the production and supply of all drugs.
“Our aim is to of course recover and seize any drugs, and to prevent people from coming to harm. We also want to educate vulnerable people about these substances and the potential life-changing impacts using, buying or even selling them can have," he added.
“Each district across the county has dedicated officers who are committed to looking at and gathering drug related intelligence, carrying out search warrants and making proactive arrests for drugs offences. In Sheffield, this is being further supported by the reintroduction of neighbourhood policing teams who will act as local enforcement and gateways to referrals for support for people seeking help to make lifestyle changes.
“This activity is supported by further drugs enforcement and educational work within the force, and by the regional organised crime unit.
“In addition to this, we work closely with our partners at local councils, charities and substance misuse organisations to regularly look at how we can have a more effective approach to tackling those involved in the supply of drugs and provide help and support to those who need it.
“We are determined to identify those involved in the distribution or production of drugs and psychoactive substances and I’d like to reiterate that under the new legislation it is a criminal offence to be in possession of any psychoactive substance, such as Spice.”
Anyone with information on those involved should call South Yorkshire Police on 101.