- Not to introduce a PSPO on nitrous oxide. This would mean the only powers available to police and council enforcement officers would be to issue a fixed penalty notice for littering, where evidence is available.
- To introduce a PSPO for just possession and/or use. This would criminalise those who are in possession but not committing any anti-social behaviour.
- To limit the geographical location in which the PSPO applies. This could create a problem with displacement.
Who will be impacted by these proposals?
Individuals who ingest, inhale, inject, smoke, possess or otherwise use psychoactive substances (e.g. nitrous oxide) and who are ausing or are likely to cause harassment, alarm, distress, nuisance or annoyance to members of the public.
Simple possession and use are not in itself a criminal offence.
The intention is not to criminalise individuals unless their behaviour causes or likely to cause harassment, alarm, distress, nuisance or annoyance.
What would be the penalties for breaching the order?
A breach of the PSPO is a criminal offence which can be dealt with by either a fixed penalty notice (FPN) fine of £100 or by way of a prosecution. If prosecuted an individual could be liable to a fine of up to £1000.
What happens if the person is under 18 years of age?
A fixed penalty notice would not be issued to a person under 18. If the situation arose, the young person would be referred through the council’s multi agency safeguarding hub. However, if the behaviour is repeated, work could be done with partners in the council and other tools and powers would be looked at to deal with the issue with a focus on diversion.
What other options are available?
What does psychoactive substances mean?
“Psychoactive substance” means any substance which is capable of producing a psychoactive effect in a person who consumes it and is not an exempted substance.
For the purposes of this prohibition a substance produces a psychoactive effect in a person if, by stimulating or depressing the person’s central nervous system, it affects the person’s mental functioning or emotional state.
For the purposes of this prohibition a person consumes a substance if the person causes or allows the substance, or fumes given off by the substance, to enter the person’s body in any way.
Are there any exemptions to the use of nitrous oxide?
Exemptions shall apply in cases where the substances are used for a valid and demonstrable medicinal use, given to an animal as a medicinal remedy, are cigarettes (tobacco) or vaporisers or are food stuffs regulated by food health and safety legislation.
When will any changes come into effect?
Once consultation has been completed and responses analysed, a decision will then be made by the Mayor and Cabinet.
There is a legal requirement to publicise the notice and signage will need to be displayed on and within the boundary to which the PSPO applies setting out the details of the order and penalties.
How long does the consultation last and who will make the final decision?
The consultation will run from Monday 4 January 2021 to Monday 15 February 2021.
The council will review all responses and the final decision will be made by the Mayor and Cabinet.
The final decision will also be publicised on Let’s talk Tower Hamlets – the council’s online consultation and engagement platform, the council website and associated communications channels.