drugs
Lincoln has become Britain's unlikely legal high capital - with reported cases rising from seven in 2010 to 820 in 2014Wikimedia Commons

Lincoln makes it into the history books as the first city in the UK to ban the consumption of legal highs and alcohol in public places.

A unanimous decision was reached at a City of Lincoln Council meeting on Tuesday 24 February, according to The Lincolnlite.

The ban, which applies to the city centre, states: "Persons within this area will not ingest, inhale, inject, smoke or otherwise use intoxicating substances." The new Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) is coming into force in the city centre from April 1, 2015.

Those breaking the order will be committing a criminal offence and could receive a Fixed Penalty Notice or a fine in court.

Additional powers will be given to police and council enforcement officers under the order to confiscate legal highs off people using intoxicating substances and give out fines.

A month-long consultation was carried out by Lincoln City Council which showed that 97% of respondents were in favour of the ban.

A study by the Centre for Social Justice showed that Lincolnshire had the highest level of incidents involving new psychoactive substances (NPS), or legal highs than any other force in the country.

The number of 'legal high' incidents recorded under the term increased to 820 in 2014.

Lincolnshire Police's Lincoln Centre Inspector Pat Coates said: "The ban gives us powers under a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) to take legal highs off individuals. It won't give us the power to search but, if necessary, we can use the Misuse of Drugs Act powers to search individuals because we never know what the substance is and what it might contain.

"The PSPO will give us a stronger power to take legal highs off people and also gives us the power to issue a fine through a Fixed Penalty Notice to the person using them.

"We would very much like to see a change in law regarding legal highs and especially how we deal with people selling them. At the moment the legislation that we are using is not designed to deal with legal highs; we use Anti Social Behaviour legislation or general Public Safety Regulations that Trading Standards use so it is very difficult to deal with the sellers.

"A change in legislation will enable us to tackle the sale of legal highs as well as dealing with the people who are causing ASB or disorder as an effect of taking them. Ideally, we would like to deal with the sellers of the product rather than the people who are using them.

"This is also a timely opportunity to remind people about the dangers of legal highs – they are untested and unregulated and we do not yet know the longer term effects they can have both on mental and physical health."