Youth on highs still bug church

02:33, Apr 14 2014
Mark Brady
CONCERNED: Reverend Simon Martin outside All Saints Church in Vanguard St. The church has been suffering damage to its property, including people cutting sections of hose to smoke legal highs.

The All Saints Church is still regularly having to ask stoned young men to leave its property.

Vicar Simon Martin told the Nelson Mail last week that groups of men aged 18-25 were coming into the church's back yard to drink alcohol and smoke legal highs. He said this was "frustrating" because the yard backed onto a creche and was visible to community groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous who met at the church.

Martin said the men also chopped bits off a hosepipe outside to make bongs.

He said that a set of new security lights had helped deter the occupiers, who were now arriving as individuals rather than groups of four or five.

"I have heard from the police area commander which was very encouraging to hear about their efforts to wrestle with this issue."

Area commander Inspector Steve Greally said police were taking a long-term approach to the problem of legal highs in the Vanguard St area, but they had not yet developed a response.


"Obviously with anyone consuming legal highs in an antisocial manner in such a nice part of town, it's not ideal."

He said the behaviour that had been reported undermined the work police had been doing to help people feel safe in Nelson without worrying about "people out of their brains on psychoactive substances", but police had to abide by the law in dealing with the individuals. "Picking them up on an ad-hoc basis will do nothing."

He said police were conducting a problem-solving exercise to deal with the situation, which meant that they would analyse what was going on, decide on a response, and then assess the effectiveness of that response. They were in the analysis phase now.

Greally recommended that those with concerns should report what they saw to police.