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Police bid to renew 'legal high' exclusion zone at Latitude festival

PUBLISHED: 19:30 29 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:11 30 May 2019

Latitude festival Picture: VICTOR FRANKOWSKI

Latitude festival Picture: VICTOR FRANKOWSKI

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Police have applied to renew powers designed to effectively ban so-called 'legal highs' from Suffolk's largest music festival.

Crowds enjoying the music at Latitude Picture: PAUL JOHN BAYFIELDCrowds enjoying the music at Latitude Picture: PAUL JOHN BAYFIELD

East Suffolk Council will be asked to carry out consultation on renewing a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) due to expire four days before this year's Latitude festival begins on July 18.

The order was imposed in 2016, when an act of Parliament gave police powers to deal with the production, importation and supply of new psychoactive substances (NPS), but stopped at making simple possession of the 'legal highs' a criminal offence.

The PSPO gave security staff power to stop anyone suspected of possessing NPS; the police power to seize evidence, and event organisers the right to eject people from the Henham Park site.

Next Tuesday, East Suffolk Council's cabinet will be told the PSPO had offered a deterrent and enhanced safety at the festival.

The production, importation and supply of new psychoactive substances (NPS) has been an offence since 2016  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe production, importation and supply of new psychoactive substances (NPS) has been an offence since 2016 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Latitude security coordinator Peter Nicholson called it a useful tool in tackling anti-social and criminal behaviour, adding: "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 predominantly a family event."

At last year's festival, two people were arrested for possession of more than 1,300 psychoactive substances, initially discovered by security.

Robin Pivett, Suffolk police controlled drug liaison officer, said the substances may otherwise have gone undetected.

Latitude festival takes place in July  Picture: MEGAN ALDOUSLatitude festival takes place in July Picture: MEGAN ALDOUS

Based on personal observations and experience, acting detective inspector Matthew Bodmer said NPS had a detrimental effect on behaviour and health, and could render users more vulnerable to being victims of crimes.

He added: "Latitude is a very safe festival. There is an integrated approach between the police and organisers to make sure the festival is as safe as possible, and I believe that a PSPO will promote this ethos, highlighting Suffolk as a safe place to visit."

PSPOs were introduced under provisions in the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 to deal with a nuisance or problem having a detrimental effect on quality of life in a particular area.

If given final approval, the PSPO will be publicised around the Latitude site, where 'surrender bins' will also be located at gates.

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