Six months on: Lincoln legal highs ban breached almost 280 times

Six months after Lincoln became the first city in the UK to enforce a ban on the public consumption of so-called legal highs, along with alcohol, figures have revealed 276 occasions where the order was breached.

A review of City of Lincoln Council’s approval of the Public Space Protection Order for the city centre began on Thursday, October 1.

The ban, introduced on April 1 in a bid to tackle anti-social behaviour, was the first of its kind in the country and applies to New Psycoactive Substances (more commonly known as legal highs).

A number of other local councils have since followed suit.

The PSPO also includes a restriction on drinking alcohol in public and is enforced by Lincolnshire Police.

In the first six months, there have been 276 incidents of people breaking the ban, and in 247 of these cases the alcohol or legal highs were surrendered on request.

Of the 29 breaches, there have so far been 12 successful prosecutions, with seven pending and a further 10 Fixed Penalty Notices issued. (A case goes to court if the Fixed Penalty Notice is not paid).

In addition, anyone who breaches the PSPO is offered support through AddAction.

Examples of products known as 'legal highs'. Photo: Lincolnshire Trading Standards

Examples of products known as ‘legal highs’. Photo: Lincolnshire Trading Standards

Sam Barstow, Service Manager for Public Protection and Anti-Social Behaviour at the city council, said: “We are pleased with the commitment of partners in enforcing and working with the council to effectively implement this order.

“We understand from talking to businesses and people living in the area that the PSPO has had a positive effect.

“When members agreed to the ban it was with the condition that there would be a review of its success after six months. As part of this, we will be consulting directly with businesses and residents in the area over the next few weeks.

“We would also welcome feedback from residents or visitors on how they think the PSPO is working and people are invited to get in touch with us by calling 01522 873378 or emailing ppasb@lincoln.gov.uk.

“We expect the review to take a few weeks, after which we will make a decision on whether any part of the order, including the area it covers, needs to be adjusted.

“The council’s Policy Scrutiny Committee will meet to discuss this review towards the end of November.”

Councillor Fay Smith, the council’s Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services and Public Protection, added: “Anecdotal evidence suggests the PSPO has been very successful in tackling anti-social behaviour and protecting Lincoln’s residents, businesses and visitors.

“Although we are proud to have taken a proactive approach to protect our communities from the emerging problem of NPS, we mustn’t be complacent and it’s important we take stock of the situation now and whether we could be doing more to ensure our city centre is a safe and welcoming place for residents and visitors alike.”