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City street drinking controls extended to cover so-called ‘legal highs’

Published on Friday, October 27, 2017

HUNDREDS of people across Leicester have backed plans to continue a city-wide ban on antisocial public drinking, and extend it to cover so-called ‘legal highs’.

Government legislation, known as Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs), gives police and other authorised officers powers to tackle a wide range of antisocial behaviour problems linked to alcohol, noise and nuisance dogs.

These controls on street drinking already exist in Leicester but the existing order – which was introduced in October 2014 and covers the entire city – is due to expire in November.

A consultation was undertaken in January this year to see if people supported the proposal to continue the citywide PSPO to help control street drinking. Of 810 responses, 89.5 per cent supported the continuation of the existing order.

Of the 48 per cent of respondents who had experienced problems with street drinkers, over a third reported specific problems with noise, littering or verbal intimidation.

The council also asked for public views on a proposal to introduce an additional citywide PSPO to cover the use of new psychoactive substances, formerly known as ‘legal highs’.

A consultation held in October 2016 attracted 658 responses, with over 86 per cent supporting the proposal.

Along with residents’ views, the consultations took into account information from neighbourhood policing units, city wardens, parks services and city council cleansing teams.

As a result, the council has announced its intention to introduce a new joint PSPO which will cover street drinking and the use of psychoactive substances.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “People have said very clearly that they support the continuation of the existing PSPO to control street drinking, and we will now extend this to cover the use of new psychoactive substances.

“It is vital that police have the powers to tackle anti-social behaviour quickly and effectively, and the citywide PSPO is an important way the council can support that.”

The new PSPO will cover anywhere in the city boundary, meaning it can be used to help tackle anti-social behaviour where alcohol or psychoactive substances are a contributing factor. It gives police powers to order offenders to hand over or dispose of alcohol or other substances. Anyone failing to do so could face arrest.

The Psychoactive Substances Act 2016, which came into force in May, made the production, importation and supply of these potentially dangerous drugs illegal. Conviction could lead to a seven-year prison sentence.

Psychoactive substances are a range of drugs – previously known as legal highs – designed to have the same effects of established illegal drugs such as cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy.

The citywide PSPO will not act as a ban on psychoactive substances, but will allow for greater controls to tackle anti-social behaviour associated with their use. This will include the use of nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, which has several legitimate uses but improper use can result in death.

Up to 325 signs will be installed across the city to make people aware of the new orders.

In line with legislation, all Public Spaces Protection Orders must be reviewed every three years.