Have a say on proposals to tackle psychoactive substance misuse

Published Thursday 6 May 2021

Residents are being asked to have their say on the introduction of a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) for use of psychoactive substances, such as nitrous oxide, linked to anti-social behaviour.

Concerns have been raised by the Police and Harborough District Council about an increase in calls about drug paraphernalia linked to psychoactive substance misuse - in particular the little silver nitrous oxide canisters, often left behind en masse in parks and other public open spaces.

The Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 introduced legislation to deal with substances, often referred to as ‘legal highs’.

Nitrous oxide cannisters

This legislation, though, only made it a criminal offence to supply or be in possession with intent to supply psychoactive substances such as nitrous oxide (sometimes known as 'laughing gas') and made no provision to deal with possession and recreational use.

A PSPO is an order that can prohibit a specified issue from affecting a public place and provides police and local authorities with an appropriate sanction. We already have two PSPOs in operation across the Harborough District, one for dog fouling and alcohol related anti-social behaviour in Market Harborough and Lutterworth town centres.

Fixed penalty notices of £150, or fines of up to £2,500 if it goes to court, can already be issued for littering offences.

Cllr Simon Whelband, Harborough District Council’s Cabinet lead on community safety, said: "I am encouraging residents to have their say on these proposals and I hope that they will support the measures. The use of psychoactive substances is a huge concern for many people in the district and I am pleased we are proposing strong action to tackle this issue head on."

Inspector Siobhan Gorman of Harborough and Wigston Neighbourhood Policing Area said: "Psychoactive substances are not illegal - for example nitrous oxide can be used for other legitimate reasons such as cake decorating - however misusing them can be very dangerous to the individual and have serious consequences to your health and wellbeing. The new order would provide new powers to deal with people misusing these substances in public places and for other activities that cause damage to the environment such as the discarding of nitrous oxide gas cannisters. Littering associated with nitrous oxide use causes concern in the community and is dangerous to wildlife, especially when left in large quantities."

The consultation on the new order will run from Friday 7 May 2021 and is open for comments until 18 June 2021.  The survey and information about the PSPO is available at www.harborough.gov.uk/consultation