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Case Studies

Laughing gas London PSPO

Lambeth council is the first London borough to introduce a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) to tackle the legal highs of ‘laughing gas’ as a specific issue.

The council says it’s essentially banning the use and supply of legal highs in public areas across the whole borough and anybody caught breaching the new order could face a maximum fine of £1000. Likewise the City of Lincoln Council introduced a similar PSPO in April in a defined ‘exclusion zone’.

Jane Edbrooke, Lambeth’s cabinet member for Neighbourhoods, said: “Legal highs are simply not safe – we saw that just days ago with the death of a teenager who had inhaled laughing gas. It is our duty to keep our residents safe and this new order should deter people from supplying and using legal highs in the borough.

“The litter and antisocial behaviour associated with certain legal highs has also blighted areas like Vauxhall and Clapham and now we have the power to do something about it.”

Under the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, local authorities have the power to come up with their own laws to tackle antisocial behaviour through PSPOs.

Lambeth says that its new PSPO is being followed by the Home Office Drugs Unit after the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs stating that councils should address antisocial behaviour associated with laughing gas through local court orders.

The new rules come in to force in Lambeth on August 17. Lambeth says that it first started receiving complaints from residents regarding laughing gas in the summer of 2014 and monitored incidents.

There have been 57 separate reports by police regarding legal highs in the borough over the last 12 months with incidents including robbery, theft, anti-social behaviour and sexual assault.

Meanwhile in north London, Hackney council in June withdrew its suggested Public Space Protection Order. The council says it’s to further review how it can best tackle anti-social behaviour, and assess the process and impact of the order.

Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor, Hackney Council, said: “Hackney has never had any intention of victimising vulnerable people. On the contrary, we are committed to helping and supporting those who need it most. We are trying to use all the tools at our disposal to keep this a safe place for everyone; no one has a right to behave in a way that intimidates others. However, we recognise the strength of feeling on this issue, and will of course consult on any future plans.”

Earlier the council had said that it needed the extra powers, arguing that the police could deal with anti-social behaviour In the context of falling police numbers. The council pointed to police numbers in Hackney having fallen from 785 officers to below 600 since 2010. Campaign groups for the homeless had complained about a rough sleeping provision in the PSPO that the council said was designed to tackle what it called a handful of entrenched rough sleepers who have repeatedly resisted all attempts to house and help them, and who are causing problems for other residents with drug use, drunkenness, public urination and defecation, and threatening behaviour.

And the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on July 24 began a consultation to run until September 20 on introducing a PSPO to help tackle what it terms the problem of ‘supercars’ in and around Knightsbridge. The consultation is in response to requests from residents in the Brompton and Hans Town ward for the council to address high performance cars speeding in the streets, drivers revving engines, and vehicles causing obstructions.


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