Tag Archives: drugs

The effect of the Psychoactive Substances legislation

New legislation was introduced in 2016 banning the production, sale, distribution and supply of psychoactive substances.

A review of the legislation took place earlier this year and the main findings are below.

Locally, however, it appears that such substances as ‘laughing gas’ or Nitrous Oxide remain a popular recreational drug and you can read more about a current campaign here.

psychoactive substances

What challenges have there been for the law?

There have been three main challenges.  These concern:

  • the medicinal products exemption for nitrous oxide
  • the psychoactivity of the same gas, and
  • the psychoactivity of synthetic cannabinoids.

What was decided?

In each case, the Court held that the substances were subject to the provisions of the Act.

What enforcement has been taken?

There have been around 270 prosecutions under the Act.  About 170 sentences have been imposed and 332 retailers have been identified as the ceasing sale of psychoactive substances.

Police forces have recorded 1,481 arrests and seizures up to March 2017, so it is clear that the supply of the substances has not been eliminated.

Has the new law on psychoactive substances had any effect?

The main aim of the Act was to prevent the open sale of psychoactive substances, and this has largely been achieved. There has been a fall in the use of the substances and therefore a reduction in health-related harm.

There has been an increase in the supply by street dealers, an increased use in some prison populations and amongst the homeless and there is a continued development of new substances in an aim to avoid the legislation.

psychoactive substances

What are the penalties?

The maximum penalty for producing, supplying, possessing with intent to supply or importing psychoactive substance is seven years. The maximum penalty for possession of a psychoactive substance in a custodial setting is two years.

The Act also introduced a scale of civil sanctions:

  • prohibition notices
  • premises notices
  • prohibition orders, and
  • premises orders

Breach of the two orders is a criminal offence.

How can we help?

psychoactive substancesVarious substances are banned under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016.  Some are now controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

Stronger penalties are available under the Misuse of Drugs Act.  As a result it is essential to ensure that the correct legislation is being applied. We are experts in this area and can provide you with tailored advice.

As a result, if you are arrested or know that the police wish to speak to you about a criminal offence involving controlled drugs or psychoactive substances then make sure you insist on your right to free and independent legal advice.

The advantages of such early legal advice can be found here.

If you have already been interviewed or face court proceedings we can still make a real difference to the outcome of your case.  Legal aid may well be available to fund your defence at court.

You can read about a case that we successfully defended where automatism was the issue here.

 You can find your nearest office here.

VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands

Alternatively you can use the contact form below:



Drugs into prison – sentencing at Sheffield Crown Court

drugs into prison sentencing
Derby criminal solicitor advocate William Bennett

Derby criminal solicitor advocate William Bennett recently represented a client appearing before Sheffield Crown Court who had taken drugs into prison.

The substantial and powerful mitigation that William was able to put forward permitted the judge to depart from what would have usually been substantial sentence of immediate imprisonment.


Drugs into Prison

William’s client had taken both cannabis and anabolic steroids into a prison.  He intended to supply a serving prisoner.  The drugs were for onward supply in the prison.

At the time of the offence, our client had been a heroin addict.  As a result he had placed himself in a position where he was vulnerable to pressure from his dealer.  This was why he had committed the offence in the first place.

Powerful mitigation from client’s decision to change

William’s client had used the delay between initial arrest and sentence to good effect.  He had managed to become drug free and secure employment.  His guilty plea in this case was further evidence of a commitment to change.  He had been undertaking weekly drug tests for a six month period.  He received favourable reports from his work and was a doting father to his son.  A letter provided by his former partner was able to confirm this.

The Learned Judge was unable to suspend sentence because of strong guidance from the Court of Appeal as to the need for deterrent sentences in such cases.  He did, however, reduce the sentence dramatically from what was expected.  William’s client received a sentence of only ten weeks, meaning that he was likely to be released having served a little over three weeks in prison.

‘All that could be said’

The case is a good example of an experienced Judge being able to show leniency in a case where an experienced solicitor advocate has said “all that could be said”  for a realistic defendant.  In this case, our client, while recognising that custody was inevitable, had demonstrated that he was committed to rehabilitation and his family.

Contact a Criminal Defence Lawyer

We provide advice and representation at the police station, Magistrates’ and Crown Courts across the country.  We have six offices based in the East Midlands.  If you face police investigation or criminal proceedings then you can find your local office here.

If you wish to contact William Bennett then please telephone him on 01332 546818 or email him here.