Published: 14:00, 09 April 2014
A Kent MP hopes shops selling legal highs will quickly close - if the government supports his new idea to prevent their sale.
Julian Brazier, MP for Canterbury and Whitstable, says civil injunctions should be introduced to stop shops from selling the chemicals.
He wants local authorities to be able to obtain injunctions against their sale - and has presented his plan to the Home Office minister who will now consider his proposal.
A review of legal highs was opened by the government in December last year, but Mr Brazier thinks more should be done to prevent their place on the shop shelves.
Speaking to Home Office minister Norman Baker, he said: "The immediate crying need with chemical highs is to crack down on the supply side, I urge the minister to look again at the possibility of a civil approach through injunctions, rather than piecemeal attempts to ban drugs group by group.
"If we could make it possible for local authorities to go to court and get an injunction under civil law against the sale of products on the basis that they may be dangerous — rather than Parliament finally and belatedly banning them.
"So that if someone suffers problems as a result of buying such substances, people can be banged up for it, that would send a message out that would quickly close most of the so-called head shops in this country.”
He is putting forward two ways of introducing the injunctions.
"I put to him two possible methods: section 222 of the Local Government Act 1972; and part 3 of the Enterprise Act 2002," he said.
"Both provisions contain powers regarding the duty of care. Not only have they never been used, they have not even had government guidance for their use issued."
In response, Mr Baker ssaid his proposals will be considered but did not make any promises.
“In December last year I announced a review of legal highs by an expert panel to address these matter.
"I do not know whether they have the capacity to deliver what he wants, but the expert panel is aware of them and will consider them, along with other options.”
After presenting his plan, Mr Brazier said the work of the Irish Republic mirrors his idea.
"This is the direction that the Irish Republic has taken against legal chemical highs and it has been very successful in closing almost all their equivalent organisations," he added.
"I support the latest order, which will ban two groups of new psychoactive substances, as well as their simple derivatives, as drugs subject to permanent control under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
"But I urge the government to think hard about whether a slightly different approach would have a greater effect.”
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