Students on the BTEC extended diploma in art and design at Darlington College were commissioned by Durham Constabulary to produce striking images that would catch the attention of young revellers.
Six artworks warning of the dangers of new psychoactive substances (NPS), known as legal highs, were selected and will now feature in a police campaign targeting the young.
The students were rewarded for their efforts by the mayor of Darlington Tom Nutt at a ceremony marking the launch of Darlington’s Recovery and Wellbeing Service, a treatment service for all ages covering all substances, from alcohol to drugs, provided by NECA.
Detective Constable Dean Haythornthwaite said: “We know NPS are being sold and taken in the area and while it isn’t wide-scale it is something we are keen to nip in the bud.
“Manufactured in China and India our tests have revealed that they often contain illegal substances and very rarely what it says in the ingredients. There is no regulation and they could contain anything.”
Police drug intervention co-ordinator Sarah Norman added: “We want to get the message out there that legal highs can be very dangerous. They have been a factor in deaths and hospitalisations but because they are so new we didn’t have any marketing material.
“We were overwhelmed with the standard of work by Darlington College students so we selected six designs which cover a wide spread of messages and should appeal to a greater audience. It really was exceptional work.”
Darlington College graphic design tutor Pippa Eeles said: “The students really embraced the commission and produced some excellent work that grasped and reflected the issue perfectly.”
Chairman of the Darlington Drug, Alcohol and Tabacco Team and leader of Darlington Borough Council Bill Dixon welcomed the students’ contribution.
“The mark of a civilised society is how we support each other and it is great to see the community come together to tackle issues like these,” he said.
Manager of the Darlington Drug, Alcohol and Tobacco Team Kate Jeffels added: “It was important that the marketing material reached young people and the standard of the students’ work was excellent. We must get across the message that, when it comes to NPS, ‘legal’ does not mean safe.”
The student presentation was held at The Gate, in North Road, at a ceremony that also included the awarding of diplomas to recovery service users by the council’s Learning and Skills Service, the chance to tour the NECA-run facility and performances by the South Tyneside Recovery Choir.