A set of horrifying photographs of people passed out after taking spice has given a shocking insight into how the ‘zombie’ drug is taking over another city in Britain.
The drug users have been found lying on shop floors, slouched in a phone box and lying in a daze beside a memorial to the war dead in Lincoln in recent days.
Business owners in the cathedral city say the addicts, who are normally young white men, pester their customers, shout abuse and beg people for change.
Business owners say drug ‘zombies’ are being found in a trance-like state in Lincoln every day
The drug users have been found lying on shop floors, slouched in a phone box and lying in a daze beside a memorial to the war dead in the cathedral city in recent days
One pub said the users were putting families off coming inside, while workers say the addicts are making them afraid to come into the office in the morning.
Residents are in fear of being approached by addicts hooked on former legal highs like Spice, which is known to leave users in an aggressive or catatonic state.
The city introduced a ban on legal highs in April 2015, but problems remain – and one businessman compared the users to characters in TV’s The Walking Dead.
Lincolnshire Police has acknowledged the problem is still there and is vowing to clamp down on people caught taking legal highs such as Spice and Mamba.
But there is confusion about who is responsible for dealing with people who may have committed a criminal offence, but may also have health or mental health problems, and may require assistance from drug support bodies.
One business owner, who didn’t want her business to be named, revealed she had to call police after finding a man passed out from taking a substance last week.
Business owners in the cathedral city say the addicts, who are normally young white men, pester their customers, shout abuse and beg people for change
Caylie Drinkall said: ‘We opened up the café in the early morning and a man came in and asked for a drink.
‘He was served by a member of staff and he seemed fairly normal. He went outside to drink his tea and then he came back in a totally different person.
‘He was aggressive towards staff and talking to different voices that he could hear. He then just passed out on one of the seats and fell on the floor.
‘He had bags of shopping, a wad of cash, bank cards and his drugs on the table.’
She added: ‘I was listening to a drug worker and she said that they [legal highs] can be ten times stronger than cannabis.
‘The difference is that there is no one chemical formula. It is ever-changing and so there is no medical substitute like there is for heroin. Once in, it’s a vicious cycle.
One pub said the users were putting families off coming inside, while workers say the addicts are making them afraid to come into the office in the morning
‘If nothing is done now, in four or five years Lincoln’s streets will be flooded with people with mental and physiological health problems. It needs nipping in the bud.’
James Wadsworth, assistant manager of The Still, said the pub is plagued by people on the substances and they often hang outside harassing customers.
He added: ‘We have a problem every single day. It is mostly them going in the telephone box and doing whatever they do.
‘They come out of the door often smacked off their face. They ask customers for spare change all the time. We have to ask them to leave as it looks bad on the business.
‘We can have “normal” families coming in for a relaxing drink and they see people like that so they don’t come in. It has happened plenty of times.
‘It is outside our doors and you often see them passed out laying down on the benches. It is worse for us as we are open all day.’
Residents are in fear of being approached by addicts hooked on former legal highs like Spice, which is known to leave users in an aggressive or catatonic state
Debra Swain, owner of the Riverside Café, compared the culprits to ‘zombies’ and added that it was like ‘watching The Walking Dead’.
She said: ‘I have never had an incident in the café, but it is very scary in the mornings, especially when there is nobody in the café.
‘They are like zombies walking around. Honestly, it is like watching The Walking Dead. I get here in the mornings at around 5am when it is pitch black.
‘I am a just a woman on my own. It can be intimidating. Sometimes I lock myself in. They ask my customers for change and tea. Somebody has to do something or someone is going to end up dead.’
Another business owner, who didn’t want to be named, added: ‘I have been here [in Lincoln] for four years now and it is getting worse. There are druggies everywhere.
‘Lincoln is a tourist city – people come here for the architecture and the history, yet all they see is that.’
The city introduced a ban on legal highs in April 2015, but problems remain – and one businessman compared the users to characters in TV’s The Walking Dead
Brian Lambert, manager of Lambert’s Footwear, added: ‘Most of them are spaced out and don’t know what is happening. I have been asked for change so I said I would call the police and was sworn at.’
Another nearby business owner who didn’t want to be identified said she too had been abused when asking one person to leave who was passed out on a bench nearby.
She said: ‘I have been called a grass. They try and beg off me as I walk past on the Cornhill and I told them I would report them to the police.
Every single morning I am asked for change and I always give them the same reply.
‘There was a man the other day laying down on the bench. I politely asked him if he would leave, but got a mouthful of abuse. It is outside where I trade. It doesn’t look good for my business.’
East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) say it would be very difficult to pinpoint exactly how many call-outs they receive specifically related to legal highs.
One business owner who didn’t want to be identified said she too had been abused when asking one person to leave who was passed out on a bench nearby
However, the service has issued a warning to the public about taking such substances.
An EMAS spokesman said: ‘We are urging the public to keep safe and consider the consequences of taking dangerous drugs.
‘Users of synthetic drugs don’t always know what harmful and dangerous substances they contain. The effect can be more severe if a user is taking them with other substances.
‘Our focus, along with other agencies, is to keep people safe and encourage them to seek the help that’s available.’
Speaking previously about tackling the issue of legal highs, Matt Corrigan, chief executive of Lincoln Business Improvement Group, revealed conversations had taken place with the police, but insisted a wider effort is needed to tackle the problem.
He said: ‘I think we recognise it is problem that involves a lot of agencies and people. It is not just about policing. It is about offering support to people. I think we are looking for some outcomes from that process.’