Lincoln first in UK to ban legal highs in public places

legal high packets
Image caption The number of incidents involving legal highs in Lincoln increased from seven to 820 between 2010 and 2014

Lincoln will become the first place in the UK to introduce a ban on people taking legal highs in public places.

The city council voted in favour of a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) - a type of power aimed at tackling anti-social behaviour.

The authority said the ban would stop people from using "intoxicating substances" in the city centre.

Lincolnshire Police welcomed the ban, which is due to start in April, but said it did not go far enough.

Council leader Ric Metcalfe said: "The council has recognised there is a problem relating to street drinking and the use of new psychoactive substances and welcomes the reform of anti-social behaviour powers.

"We want our city centre to be a safe and welcoming place for residents and visitors alike."

The council said it would work with police to produce an enforcement plan to support the order.

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What are legal highs?

  • Legal highs are substances which produce the same, or similar effects, to drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy, but are not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act
  • In many cases, they are designed to mimic class A drugs, but are structurally different enough to avoid being classified as illegal substances, so it is legal to possess and use them

In 2014, police recorded 820 incidents in Lincolnshire where the term "legal highs" was logged.

Insp Pat Coates, neighbourhood policing inspector for Lincoln city centre, said he fully supported the council's action but he believed the measures did not go far enough.

"It tackles the on-street problem of legal high usage and the anti-social behaviour that we've seen as a consequence of that," he said.

"We would like to see better legislation to enable us to deal with the actual sellers."

The Centre for Social Justice (CJS) is also calling for action to tackle the suppliers of legal highs.

It wants new police powers to close shops that persist in selling them.

The exclusion zone covers a large part of central Lincoln, including the city's football ground, cathedral and shopping areas.

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