No laughing matter for Council

Epsom and Ewell Borough Council has brought in a Public Space Protection Order following a consultation with residents about psychoactive substance abuse in the Borough’s open spaces.

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The Order covers psychoactive substances not otherwise fully controlled by national legislation. The most significant example of this is currently nitrous oxide, known as laughing gas, which is typically used in the catering industry and supplied in small metallic cannisters or larger pressurised tanks.

A Public Space Protection Order makes it an offence to use or be in possession of these types of substances on public land. It will be in place two years initially and signs are being placed in hotspots around the Borough, including all parks, over the coming month.

Any person who fails to comply with this order without a reasonable excuse will have their material confiscated and risk a Fixed Penalty Notice of £100 or a fine in court of £1,000. This will be enforced by both the police and the Council’s enforcement teams.

Councillor John Beckett, Chair of the Environment and Safe Communities Committee, said, “We have seen a considerable increase in the use of nitrous oxide cannisters in the Borough. There are real concerns from residents about the risks of this drug and the gateway effect to other dangerous substances. We want to alleviate the impacts of this drug by highlighting the adverse effects and provide a safe community for all residents in Epsom & Ewell. This public space protection order will provide powers to the police and our enforcement teams to issue fixed penalty notices in the event of a breach. We know our residents feel strongly about this issue and we thank them for their responses to our consultation.”

If residents are concerned about the presence of psychoactive substances in the Borough, they may report them via https://epsom-ewell.gov.uk/residents/online-forms?field_form_category_value=Report.
This Public Space Protection Order has been made under 59 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014.

The Council has already located and seized substances from persons present in the stairwell of one of its carparks and carried out follow up work with them and their parents.