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Bexley police get extra powers to fine drinkers and nitrous oxide users on the spot

Police will be able to fine drunken louts £100 on the spot after town hall chiefs imposed a special rule in one borough.

Bexley council have imposed a borough-wide Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) to tackle antisocial behaviour such as the use of nitrous oxide canisters and street drinking.

The vast majority of respondents wanted the order imposed, in answer to a consultation this month.

PSPOs provide police, community officers and council enforcement officers with the power to control anti-social behaviour.

Bexley want it to limit the impact of the misuse of nitrous oxide canisters as well as street drinking.

Inhaling nitrous oxide gas from the finger-sized tubes, say Bexley, can include headaches, nausea, collapse, increased heart rate, swelling on the brain, nerve damage and anaemia, as well as psychological problems.

The council says anyone who breaches the PSPO for the reason of drugs or alcohol would be offered the support they may need.

Prohibited behaviour within the PSPO area will include –

  •     committing or being likely to commit, alcohol-related anti-social behaviour
  •     being in possession of (without a lawful or reasonable excuse) nitrous oxide cannisters
  •     consuming, inhaling, injecting or smoking any substance capable of stimulating or depressing the central nervous system (eg nitrous oxide)
  •     behaving in an anti-social manner within any public car park or any park
  •     behaving in an anti-social manner in any other public space, whether on your own, or with any other person(s)

Anyone found to be in breach of any of these by an authorised person – including a delegated officer of the London Borough of Bexley, a police constable or a police community support officer – will be issued with a brief intervention card offering access to substance misuse helplines; as well as being asked to surrender any psychoactive substances (e.g. nitrous oxide) and dispose of any alcohol in their possession. If over 18 they will also be subject to a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) of £100 with an early pay reduction to £60.00.

Information on the local support available for drug or alcohol addiction will also be shared with anyone in breach of the rules who may need it.

Of 2250 residents who responded, 2184 supported the introduction of a PSPO.

Cabinet member for communities, Cllr Sue Gower, said: “It isn’t just the anti-social or the litter side to this issue that concerns us – more important there are the very real health implications for anyone inhaling nitrous oxide. We are hoping that this order will deter people from risking their lives in this way.

“I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to take part in this consultation. It was clear from the responses that our residents feel that this is the best way to tackle this kind of behaviour. We shall be monitoring the PSPO to see how successful it is over the next few months.

“We are keen to also hear from residents on any other local crime and disorder issues that may concern them. The Bexley Crime survey is currently live online. The results of this survey will help the Community Safety Partnership decide its priorities for 2022/23.”

The Bexley Crime survey runs until 31 December and is available online at www.bexley.gov.uk/crimesurvey

 

Photo Michael Coghlan

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