Nottinghamshire police have said that tackling the class B drug spice - or one of its variants, black mamba - is a top priority.
Spice is a synthetic cannaboid that is smoked like cannabis, but is much stronger.
Once a ‘legal high’ available on the high street, since 2016 spice has been outlawed.
There are a number of safety nets for people who are addicted to spice.
But is there anything that ordinary members of the public can do?
For Inspector Nick Butler, it is more about what you should never do. And that is give in to the urge to make a kind gesture to someone apparantly down on their luck.
He said: “I would like to warn people to not give the users money, many of them are not homeless. They’ve been offered support and choose not to engage.
“If you do want to help, donate to a charity such as Framework that helps the users.”
He added that although well-meaning members of the public had tried to help people addicted to spice, he had seen some with food stashed away, and that it was cash they were after.
Spice users who want to be helped can get aid from professionals - who often come to them.
A spokeswoman for Mansfield District Council said: “The use of mamba is on the increase across the country and many towns and cities are facing the same challenges. “The council is working with Framework and the Mental Health outreach team to signpost Mamba users to support services to help them with their addictions and any housing issues while also working with the police to take enforcement action where necessary.
“The council is funding this targeted outreach with support from the Police and Crime Commissioner.
“From June 11, there has been increased police activity with support from the council’s neighbourhood wardens and antisocial behaviour team.”
She urged people to donate money to recognised charities such as Framework that provide support services – this is called ‘diverted giving’. You can find various ways to donate at www.frameworkha.org/support_us/.
Volunteers from Framework housing association go out first thing in the morning to help the homeless population, armed with housing forms. Their centre on Sherwood Street offers a lifeline for those sleeping rough or at immediate risk of doing so.
Their website states: “The Sherwood Street Centre provides much more than merely a bed for the night; it provides a solid and supported base from which homeless people can begin their recovery with dignity and security, and plan for the rest of their lives.”
Nottinghamshire County Council offer a ‘New Directions’ service, which operates from four recovery centres in Mansfield, Hucknall, Worksop and Newark, as well as over 30 outreach locations. They offer clinical and psychosocial interventions, assessment for detox and residential rehab provision, and recovery planning.
Hayley Barsby, chief executive at Mansfield District Council said the local authority is doing all it can to tackle spice use.
Actions include the use of dispersal notices banning people from the town centre, followed by Community Protection Warnings and Notices which have specific conditions attached.
Breaches of these can lead to court appearances where magistrates can impose Criminal Behaviour Orders (CBOs) with the option of prison for any further breaches.
“We want to reassure people that help is available through our outreach teams for those that choose to accept, it but we will also continue to take enforcement action to reduce drug- related behaviour in the town centre where appropriate.”