'Spice Town': Fines in Wrexham drug crackdown unpaid

Bag of psychoactive substance Spice Image copyright GMP
Image caption Seven fixed penalties have been handed out so far in 2019 - but are unpaid

Fewer than one in 20 fines handed out in a drive to tackle drinking and drug-taking in a town dubbed "Spice Town" were actually paid.

In 2016 Wrexham council introduced two public space protection orders (PSPOs) which saw fixed penalties of £100 issued in the town centre and Rhosddu.

But a freedom of information (FOI) request showed of the 183 fines issued over three years only nine were paid.

The council said penalty notices were normally handed out as a last resort.

But a councillor said people had "lost faith" in the council's ability to deliver.

The town was dubbed "Spice Town" in 2017 when images emerged of people in a zombie-like state from synthetic drugs.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Fixed penalties were handed out in the town centre and Rhosddu

Rhosddu councillor Marc Jones said residents in his ward were fed up with the problems plaguing the area.

The Plaid Cymru politician told the Local Democracy Reporting Service : "Tackling anti-social behaviour and its underlying causes has to mean more than a PSPO that isn't enforced properly.

"People who live in Rhosddu, the town's shopkeepers and everyone who uses the town centre want reassurances that they and their families can go about their business without having to put up with anti-social behaviour.

"The last PSPO didn't provide that and any future PSPO has to be better thought out and better resourced as part of a broader strategy to improve our community.

"People in my ward have lost faith in the council's ability to deliver."

Conservative councillor Hugh Jones, the authority's portfolio holder for public protection and community safety, said: "When the PSPOs were introduced, we were very clear that enforcement under the new orders would be a last resort.

"Instead, the prospect of enforcement would act as a deterrent... enforcement can only be part of a wider effort involving partner agencies, and the provision of proper support."

Fixed penalties handed out in the the town centre and Rhosddu:

  • 2016: 52 (five paid)
  • 2017: Five (none paid)
  • 2018: 119 (four paid)
  • 2019: Seven (none paid)

The council is currently consulting on plans to create a new enhanced order after the previous ones lapsed in March and July.

Proposals to introduce a new PSPO will be considered by members of the council's ruling executive board in October.

More on this story