City centre workshops held to tackle spice

Officers from across the country were in Sheffield yesterday (Thursday 10 January) to share ideas about how best to tackle the issue of Spice use and supply in city centres.

The ‘City Centre Policing spice workshop’ is the second event to be held in Sheffield in recent months, after the city hosted the Problem Solving and Demand Reduction Programme’s National Synthetic Cannabinoid Conference in December. It was this, which inspired the Sheffield Central Neighbourhood team to organise their own event, as Sergeant Scott Syzmzcak explains: “The conference last year was just the start of a conversation for us. We wanted to carry on talking to colleagues from across the country.

“There is a great deal of knowledge to be shared around how to manage the demand spice is putting on city centre policing teams. There are officers trying new things all the time, some of it works, some of it doesn’t and we need to learn from each other, that’s what our event has been about.”

South Yorkshire officers were joined by colleagues from six other police forces including; Greater Manchester, North Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Humberside for a series of presentations and practical problem solving sessions. 

Speakers included South Yorkshire Police, officers from the Leicester Central neighbourhood team and partner agencies including Doncaster’s Complex Lives Team.

ACC Jason Harwin, the Drugs Lead for the National Police Chiefs Council also endorsed the event, encouraging officers to learn from colleagues in different cities with the aim of informing wider policy.

Superintendent Paul McCurry said it was important to talk to colleagues: “The problems caused by the use and supply of synthetic cannabinoids, commonly referred to as Spice cannot be underestimated, the impact is far reaching. It is having a huge effect on policing, but there are also ripples, beyond local authority drug and alcohol teams, into housing and the NHS; amongst this there are also vulnerable people, who we have to listen to.

“We’re not saying that events like this are going to produce a simple solution, but they are important in demonstrating that we are trying to strengthen our position and understand the issue more deeply. We have come away with some ideas that we can use on the streets operationally, but also key issues that need to be addressed more widely, hopefully we can feed these into National policy.”

Among the speakers was Inspector Manjit Atwal from Leicestershire Police: “This has been a fantastic event, it’s a rare opportunity to speak openly with partners and other forces. Partnerships are key to tackling this issue more effectively.”

Further events are planned involving health partners and the NHS.

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