Taunton bans legal highs in public places

View of Taunton town centre Image copyright Google
Image caption The new order will make it a criminal offence to take an intoxicating substance in Taunton town centre

Taunton is to introduce a ban on people taking intoxicating substances including legal highs in public places.

The borough council has been working with Avon and Somerset Police to introduce a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) covering the town centre.

PSPOs are a type of power given to local councils to help tackle persistent anti-social behaviour.

The new order - which does not apply to pavement cafes or licensed premises - will be enforced from 1 June.

The PSPO replaces the "no drinking" order that applies to some areas of Taunton but is far broader, covering the town centre as well as parts of Priorswood Road through to Toneway and Blackbrook Way.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Legal highs are often sold in colourful wrappers, similar to sweet packets

Anyone in breach of the order will be committing a criminal offence and could receive a fixed penalty notice or face a fine in court.

Last year, Taunton Deane councillors voted unanimously to ban the sale of legal highs in premises rented from the authority.

In March, new anti-social behaviour legislation was upheld in a test case involving the closure of a legal highs shop in Taunton, which police said was responsible for serious nuisance and disorder in the town.

Taunton is following in the footsteps of Lincoln City Council which introduced a similar scheme in February.

Leader of Taunton Deane Council, councillor John Williams, said the order sent "a clear message that unacceptable, anti-social behaviour in Taunton will not be tolerated".

Legal highs are similar to illegal drugs but have had their chemistry tweaked, meaning they are not covered by the Misuse of Drugs Act and are legal to sell.

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