New powers to tackle substances
New police powers to tackle psychoactive substances are being implemented nationally on Thursday, 26 May, and police in Suffolk and Norfolk have been preparing for the introduction of the new legislation.
The Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 will provide a blanket ban on the production, supply and importation of new psychoactive substances. This legislation will fundamentally change the way forces tackle psychoactive substances.
National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for New Psychoactive Substances, Commander Simon Bray said; "This new legislation is a very positive step forward. Police are ready to enforce the new law and tackle the harm caused in communities by the sale and use of drugs. As with all drugs, our approach will be practical, proportionate and based on the individual circumstances.
"Forces are committed to reducing the harm caused by all drugs but we cannot do this alone; prevention, education and health service all have a crucial role to play.”
The act is designed to target those who produce, supply and offer to supply psychoactive substances and will create new criminal offences that could result in seven years imprisonment.
As of 26 May there will be no more so called ‘legal highs’ as the act encompasses all substances that are capable of having an effect on your central nervous system or your emotional and mental state – i.e. is capable of producing a psychoactive effect in a person who consumes it - with the exception of foods, medicines, alcohol, caffeine and nicotine, etc, that are listed in schedule 1 of the Act, and controlled drugs covered under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
Alkyl nitrates, also known as poppers, are also excluded from the legislation.
Nitrous Oxide is included within the legislation when being sold for recreational purposes, or a purpose that it is not meant for.
The Act does not aim to criminalise people who possess the substances but those illegally producing, importing or supplying them.
The new act will grant police powers to stop and search for, and dispose of, psychoactive substances. Officers will also be able to obtain search warrants for premises linked to the supply, importation or production of NPS.
Chief Inspector David Buckley of Norfolk Police said; "We welcome the introduction of this new legislation that clarifies the position with regards to the supply of these substances, that can cause considerable harm.
The greatest concern is that anyone taking them does not know what they contain and previously they have been linked to both hospital admissions and deaths. Police will now have the powers to take action against anyone involved in illegally supplying them or importing them.”
A variety of options exist in enforcing the legislation including prohibition notices, premises notices, prohibition orders and premises orders, which allow police or local authorities to require people to stop stocking, selling or supplying psychoactive substances.
Commander Bray said: "Police forces, Trading Standards, border forces and other organisations have been working hard to tackle the supply of controlled and non-controlled NPS but a blanket ban on new psychoactive substances will make it simpler to deal with those drugs that are unsafe but may not yet be controlled.
It will also make it easier to tackle so called 'legal highs' which may contain mixtures including already illegal drugs.
"We are encouraging the public to let police forces know (eg via Crime Stoppers 0800 555 111) if they believe shops or establishments continue to supply psychoactive substances once the Act commences on 26 May 2016.”