SOUTH Wales Police is warning people of the dangers of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), often wrongly referred to as ‘legal highs’.

NPS are drugs which are not currently controlled under the UK?s Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, but which mimic the effects of illegal drugs.

Use of NPS is higher among young people, with users often not knowing what they are taking.

Many NPS actually contain banned drugs.

Detective Chief Inspector Jason Redrup said: “Across South Wales we are seeing an increase in people using NPS, especially among young people.

"It is important that people know that these substances are not only illegal but are also dangerous to their health. In most cases users won’t know exactly what they are taking.”

Only this week a 13-year-old boy in Cardiff was taken to hospital by ambulance after he collapsed and suffered ill effects after smoking an NPS called King Cobra.

In 2012, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) reported that NPS had been mentioned 52 times on death certificates.

Short term harms from NPS include feelings of panic, anxiety, confusion, psychosis, altered perceptions and hallucinations. Long terms harms are largely unknown.

DCI Redrup added: “We will continue to liaise with young people through schools, colleges and universities in order to raise the awareness of young people as to the harms of NPS.”

Since 2010, more than 250 NPS have been banned in the UK, and in recent years 27 new NPS, not previously seen in the UK, have also been identified.

Traditionally the premises selling these substances are so called “head shops”, which are shops specialising in articles and paraphernalia of interest to drug users. However these products are now being sold in a broad variety of locations, including clothes shops and market stalls as well as over the internet.

Across the UK there has been a concerted programme of enforcement activity on NPS, resulting in over 73 warrants, 44 arrests and the seizure of a large number of illicit items including banned new psychoactive substances.

And in South Wales last week (on Monday May 19) a drugs warrant was executed at a commercial premises on Woodfield Street in Morriston, Swansea following concerns raised by the local community.

As a result of the warrant more than £6,000 worth of stock was seized and is now subject to an investigation by Swansea’s trading standards team. The investigation is looking at illegally packaged products and counterfeit goods.