Councils could get more powers to tackle legal highs

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Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has welcomed proposals in the Psychoactive Substance Bill to give councils and the police more powers to stop the manufacture, supply or sale of psychoactive substances.

The Bill, which had its second reading on June 9, proposes to give enforcement powers to the PSNI, Border Force, National Crime Agency and local authorities including district councils in Northern Ireland.

Mark H Durkan said: “The proposed powers would enable councils to make a positive contribution towards protecting their local communities by being able to take swift action to tackle the problem. For example, they could issue a prohibition notice which requires the person to stop carrying out the prohibited activity. Councils will also be able to issue a premises notice which would require a person, such as the landlord of a ‘head shop’, to take all reasonable steps to prevent prohibited activity taking place on the premises.”

Councils could also apply to the courts for a prohibition or premises order. Its breach is a criminal offence punishable by up to two years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.