Police Issue Safety Warning Following Rise in Drugs Related Deaths

Thursday, 20 April, 2017

Police in the Yorkshire and Humber region today issued a safety warning following a rise in drugs related deaths.

The deaths have been largely associated with taking Class A drugs, predominantly heroin. Last weekend there were two suspected drugs related deaths in West Yorkshire and four in Barnsley – there have also been deaths in Humberside and Cleveland.

A number of enquiries are still ongoing to establish the cause of these deaths but tests on a limited number of separate batches of drugs recovered within our region have found that a number have been contaminated or adulterated with a substance called Fentanyl.

It is too early to say whether the drug is a factor in these deaths. Fentanyl is an anaesthesia used to help prevent pain after surgery or other medical procedures. It has the same effects as morphine but is significantly more powerful - it has been found to be 100 times more potent than typical street heroin.

Detective Superintendent Nick Wallen, who leads the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Drugs Threat Reduction Group, said: “It’s not possible for the police to state that the presence of this drug has caused the increase in drug related deaths.

“We are however urging those people who regularly use Class A drugs and particularly those who purchase their drugs via street suppliers to be extremely cautious in relation to what they are taking.

"Typical symptoms of a Fentanyl overdose include slow and difficult breathing, nausea and vomiting, dizziness and increased blood pressure. Anyone experiencing any unusual symptoms after taking drugs should seek immediate medical attention.

“All police forces in conjunction with our colleagues from the National Crime Agency are working with partners from public health organisations to offer help and support to those vulnerable to serious harm from drug use.

“It is illegal to possess or supply a Class A drug. We are doing all we can to pursue and bring before the courts those individuals who are responsible for the production and supply of drugs into our communities.”

Anyone who has information about the distribution of illegal Class A drugs in West Yorkshire is asked to contact West Yorkshire Police on 101.

Information can also be given anonymously to the independent Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.

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