Council officials are looking into plans to fine people under the influence of new psychoactive substances (NPS).

Warrington Borough Council is considering introducing a £100 penalty charge to try and crack down on people using NPS in the town centre. Formerly known as legal highs, new psychoactive substances are associated with anti-social behaviour and also carry potential health risks.

The local authority has now started an official consultation on its plan, which would include creating a public space protection order (PSPO). This order would give police officers, PCSOs and council staff the power to issue fines to people who they believe are under the influence of a new psychoactive substance in a public place.

The sale of NPS, which are synthetic substances designed to mimic the effect of drugs, is now against the law but in many areas, the substances are still widely used.

Testing can detect presence of new psychoactive substances NPS

AlphaBiolabs, a leading drug testing laboratory based in Warrington, offers testing for NPS alongside its traditional drug testing services. Tests can detect the presence of a range of substances in urine blood or hair samples.

Testing is used by courts, local authorities and employers as well as members of the public who want to know whether an individual has been misusing illegal substances.

Councillor Judith Guthrie, the executive board member for public protection on Warrington Borough Council, said it was important that the issue of NPS was tackled.

She said: “Warrington town centre is undergoing a major renaissance and improving people’s safety is a part of that. The taking of so-called ‘legal highs’ has a hugely damaging impact on those who engage in this behaviour, as well as those around them.”

The consultation will run until January 23 and depending on the responses the council receives, the PSPO area could be introduced next year. If it is brought in, anyone found breaching its conditions will be given a fixed penalty notice up to the value of £100.