TORFAEN MP Paul Murphy has called on the UK Government and Welsh Assembly to work together to tackle legal highs.

During the annual St David’s Day debate in the House of Commons, Mr Murphy expressed his fears about the increasing prevalence of legal highs.

He called for more powers for local communities to close shops selling the substances in their area.

The Torfaen MP told how two such shops had opened within Gwent.

In October last year these shops were raided by the police and 58 substances were sent away for testing.

But, only months later the shop owner was able to open another shop in Pontypool despite over 170 local people signing a petition.

Speaking during the debate, Mr Murphy said: “It simply cannot be right that these dangerous products are still being sold to people and that local authorities are powerless to stop the damage they are doing.

“The people using these substances have no idea what they are taking and no way of knowing the possible dangers or the long term health risks of doing so.

“The reality is that legal highs are just as dangerous as illegal drugs, if not more so, because people unwittingly think they are safe because they are legal and being sold on the local high street.”

The Torfaen MP drew attention to the way the dealers of these substances are targeting young people by using children’s cartoon characters to advertise and promote drug use.

He said: “Parents in Torfaen need urgent action now to tackle this scourge on our streets.”