From midnight tonight, the UK Border Agency will seize and destroy shipments of phenazepam.
The government will also take steps to control the so-called legal high as class C drug when Parliament returns.
This follows advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) which recommended that measures are taken at the border to stop it gaining a foot-hold in the UK.
Read more about the import ban here.
Dangerous and illegal
Minister for crime prevention and antisocial behaviour Baroness Browning said: ‘We are committed to tackling emerging new drugs and stopping them gaining a foothold in this country. Banning the importation of this harmful substance and taking steps to control it, sends a clear message to unscrupulous traffickers and dealers trying to start a market here for their dangerous drugs.
‘Our law enforcement agencies are already working closely with international partners to prevent drugs reaching our streets in the first place and we are creating a new border policing command as part of the National Crime Agency to better tackle international drug gangs.
‘The ACMD’s advice on phenazepam reinforces what we already know – that substances touted as “legal highs” contain dangerous and illegal substances. Users need to understand they could be breaking the law and risk seriously damaging their mental and physical health.’
The government recently launched a forensic early warning system which will see scientists, police and drugs charities working together to build a fast and accurate picture of new drugs being sold.
This new system was created in response to growing concerns about the rise in use of so-called ‘legal highs’ and puts the UK at the forefront of international efforts to tackle the issue.
Alongside this, a new 12 month temporary banning power for new psychoactive substances means that immediate action can be taken while ACMD fully assess the harms they pose to the public.
The 2010 drug strategy sets out a fundamentally different approach to preventing drug use in communities, and in supporting recovery from drug and alcohol dependence.