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Latitude Festival's legal highs public order is 'no longer needed'

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A public order which aims to crackdown on legal highs at Latitude Festival will not be extended because there is no evidence it has been needed.

A PSPO – public space protection order – was introduced in 2016 and renewed in 2019 to tackle problems around legal highs.

The order allows police to tackle a specific problem in a defined area by imposing conditions on use of the area, in this case distributing, possessing, consuming, selling or offering legal highs at Henham Park, near Southwold, Suffolk, during the Latitude weekend.

Latitude Festival near Southwold in Suffolk Picture: Latitude
Latitude Festival near Southwold in Suffolk Picture: Latitude

The order expires on July 17 this year, just a handful of days before this year’s festival, but police have agreed that it is no longer needed because there was “little evidence of nitrous oxide use at the festival” and other powers were available.

Since 2016, just four fixed penalty notices were served over the issue. According to official festival figures, around 35,000 people attended last year, no fines were issued in 2021 and fewer than 10 nitrous oxide cannisters were found.

Cllr Mark Jepson, Conservative assistant cabinet member for community safety, said: “The current PSPO for Henham Park expires in July this year. Having consulted with police there has been very little use of this legislation for a number of years.

“There is now more appropriate legislation and the police are now quite happy we don’t go for a renewal of this.”

East Suffolk Council (57188060)
East Suffolk Council (57188060)

The powers were originally introduced in 2016 after psychoactive substances were linked to the deaths of 144 people in the UK two years prior.

While the public space protection order won’t exist beyond July 17, there are alternative powers police can use if problems arise.

They include dispersal powers or a community protection notice.

The festival couldn’t be held in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but returned in 2021 as part of the Government’s events research programme for opening up of events safely. It required attendees to prove they had been vaccinated or tested negative for coronavirus.

This year, Lewis Capaldi, Foals and Snow Patrol will headline the July 21-24 weekender.