Fresh drive to oust legal highs from Latitude Festival
- Credit: Archant
Special powers to combat the use of legal highs at one of the country’s biggest music festivals have moved a step closer.
A public space protection order (PSPO) has been in place at Latitude for the last three years, which gave event staff and police the ability to seize legal highs and oust anyone found producing or supplying them.
The order expires four days before this year's event, leading to a fresh plea by Suffolk police for East Suffolk Council to renew the order.
On Tuesday night, the council's cabinet agreed to carry out the necessary consultation with police, town and parish councils and the public ahead of a planned renewal in time for next month's event at Henham Park.
Councillor Mary Rudd, cabinet member for community health, said: "Latitude is a very safe festival with fewer than 50 offences per event.
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"Based on the impact of the previous PSPO we believe a further three years will play a part in ensuring this continues."
Council leader Steve Gallant said it was the council's duty to help support police and security at what was a great family event.
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A full consultation will now take place allowing the public to have their say on the orders.
While helping curb the use of legal highs, the order falls short of making possession a criminal offence.
Peter Nicholson, security co-ordinator for the popular music festival, said: "The introduction of a public spaces protection order at Latitude Festival has provided a very useful tool in tackling a range of anti-social and criminal behaviour.
"From it being first introduced there has been a step-change in the effectiveness of security on site.
"The fact that it is in place gives security staff the confidence that enforcement is an option when dealing with these matters and provides even more safety at what is a predominantly a family event."
Councillor Stephen Burroughes, cabinet member for customer services, pointed to the soaring popularity of the event which has made it one of the most popular on the summer festival calendar in the UK.
He added: "I think it's important we support this event as much as we can because the economic benefit to east Suffolk is enormous, and we are very proud that Latitude makes its home in east Suffolk."