THE number of police-incidents involving the drug ‘spice’ has soared, shock new figures have revealed.

Police in Lancashire responded to nearly six-times as many call-outs over the drug in the past year than they did two years ago.

Officers dealt with just 18 spice-related incidents between April 2014 and March 2015, compared to 120 in the same period in 2016-17.

The highest number of cases were in Blackpool, followed by Blackburn and Preston, with the majority involving people collapsing, falling ill or causing disorder after taking the drug.

Experts said spice, which is a synthetic cannabinoid, can cause a ‘zombie-like reaction’.

Police, paramedics and charities said they have all seen an increase in the number of users of psychoactive substances, including spice.

It follows a change in law in May last year which means it has been illegal to take, give away or sell spice, and in December new legislation made spice illegal to possess.

A North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) spokesman said: “We have seen an increase in the number of users of psychoactive substances, previously known as ‘legal highs’.

“Despite a change in the law, we continue to respond to incidents where these substances, such as Spice, are causing us real concern with symptoms ranging from minor injuries to life-threatening collapses, and in some cases death.”

Father Jim McCartney, chief executive of Blackburn-based drugs charity, THOMAS, said: “We’ve seen an increase in people accessing our drop-in clinic who’ve been using spice.

“It’s a real problem and concern in the area and reasons for the increase include how cheap and readily available the drug is.”

A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “Our advice remains that people should not take them as they simply have no idea what they could contain or the health risks involved.

“If you have concerns about drug use in your area, including spice, then you should call police on 101.”

The figures comes from a freedom of information request lodged by the Guardian.