Police are poised to be given tough new powers to crack down on 'hippy crack' in Harborough.
A move to impose a new Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) to clamp down on psychoactive substances such as nitrous oxide - also known as hippy crack or laughing gas - was unanimously supported by Harborough council last night (Monday).
It was voted through after being backed by 84 per cent of people who responded to a public consultation earlier this summer.
Harborough council is acting because the widespread use of hippy crack is heavily linked to anti-social behaviour.
Cllr Simon Whelband told last night’s full council meeting that so-called legal highs created massive litter problems across Harborough as well as posing serious health risks to users.
Harborough council’s cabinet lead on community safety, he warned that people who flouted the new Public Spaces Protection Order on psychoactive substances faced being fined £100.
Both the council and police are concerned about a spike in calls about hippy crack misuse across the district.
Cllr Phil Knowles, who leads the council’s Liberal Democrat group, told councillors: “This is a very important issue.
“This is a big step forward tackling this problem.
“But we need to see this new order enforced.
“The police are on board with this and have to push it through.
“Action must be taken if people step out of line,” said Cllr Knowles.
Cllr Paul Bremner called for people to be given greater education about the dangers of using hippy crack.
And Cllr Peter James warned that the tiny silver canisters were posing a serious problem in Little Bowden in Market Harborough as he said the threat had to be tackled.
Cllr Phil King, who leads the council, said the use of nitrous oxide had a huge impact on multiple levels right across Harborough.
Hundreds of the little silver nitrous oxide canisters have been piled up and scattered about in and around Market Harborough repeatedly over the last few months.
The Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 introduced legislation to deal with substances, known as 'legal highs'.
This legislation, though, only made it a criminal offence to supply or be in possession with intent to supply psychoactive substances.
A PSPO can ban a specific issue affecting a public place and gives police and local authorities an appropriate sanction.
There are already two PSPOs in operation across Harborough.
One is for dog fouling and the other for alcohol-related trouble in Market Harborough and Lutterworth town centres.
Fixed penalty notices of £150, or fines of up to £2,500 if it goes to court, can be handed out for littering offences.