Thousand pound fine for begging on the streets of Kettering

Kettering Council has prosecuted 10 people for breaching its Public Spaces Protection Order. The order in question is incredibly wide-ranging, banning activities including: unauthorised charity collection, begging, under-18s out between 11pm-6am, loitering, distributing leaflets, skateboards, alcohol, and swearing.   The Council announced its 10 prosecutions with gung-ho glee,saying “The PSPO gives powers of enforcement to allow us to tackle issues that are particularly relevant to Kettering town centre. The CBOs (Criminal Behaviour Orders) issued will help prevent this behaviour with the threat of a prison sentence for reoffenders.” The 10 individuals were prosecuted either for public drinking or for begging, for which they…

Councils duck the questions raised about Kingdom Security

On 15 May, Panorama’s programme Inside the Litter Police exposed the shady and dubious dealings of the private litter police, who are paid per fine issued. These included: evidence that these wardens are paid a bonus according to volume of fines, and this bonus can reach £1000 a month; evidence that wardens pretend to call the police; images of wardens saying they will hand out fines ‘like Smarties’. These practices have been suspected for some years, but this is the first definitive video evidence, and so is very significant. One might have thought that councils would be shocked by the programme and reconsider their contracts with the…

Petitions against the private litter police!

There are several long-standing and recent campaigns against the private litter police exposed on Panorama on 15 May. Here are some petitions below, highlighting the abusive practices in different areas. Read and share, or start your own.   ‘Stop the partnership between Kingdom and Ealing Council now‘ – a new petition to Ealing Council by Ealing Litter Prevention Team: In light of the BBC Panorama programme aired Monday 15th May 2017, which has illustrated the clear failings of Kingdom and their questionable working practices, we are calling on Ealing Council to drop their partnership with the company. Whilst we agree that action must…

On the background of the private litter police

There is a degree of corruption in Anglo-Saxon criminal justice which has not been seen for several centuries. Because the use of power is neither governed by law, nor by systematic elite interests, the door is left open for punishment to be driven by personal material interests of officials themselves. The on-the-spot fine provides a base pecuniary motive to punishment. Some council departments now subsist in large part from their fines income, meaning that an environmental department issuing fines starts to have a private, parasitic interest, apart from the public interest of the local authority. The department becomes a private business with…

‘Hand delivery not allowed’

(Guest post by Rupert Lipton) There is a new trend of public organisations refusing to accept documents, applications, correspondence etc. delivered by hand. I have now experienced this three times and it certainly makes my blood boil and seems a wholly inappropriate policy for any public organisation. The first occasion was when trying to deliver a Private Hire Drivers Licence application to Transport for London’s office in Blackfriars Road a few years ago. I wanted to be sure that the application was received, not trusting it to the post and of course, as a private hire driver what could be more obvious that…

My Aunt and her form-filling local authority carers

(A guest post by Tracey Logan) I recently had responsibility for organising the care of an elderly aunt with dementia. It shocked me how much time was spent by visiting local authority carers –  none of whom knew my aunt – writing notes about her mood and demeanour, and leaving them in a folder on the sideboard that nobody ever looked at. When my aunt eventually went into extra-care sheltered housing, the form-filling continued, even though there was an on-site team of carers who met daily and shared updates on residents. Each breakfast, lunch, evening meal and intervening visit would be recorded…

Busking and Public Space in the Busybody State

(A guest post by Jack Lowe) Last month, Havering Council announced their proposals for a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) in Romford town centre. If their plans go ahead, busking with an amplifier, or anywhere apart from locations designated by the council, would be a criminal offence punishable by a £100 Fixed Penalty Notice or a fine of up to £1000 if taken to court. What might seem like an exceptionally draconian response to performing in public space is an increasingly familiar story in towns and cities across the UK. Not only has busking been regularly included in plans for PSPOs, but…

North Somerset criminalises causing ‘annoyance’ in council carparks

North Somerset Council is planning a series of broad-ranging PSPOs, which would criminalise many otherwise innocent parts of life. Here is our response to the consultation (you can respond to pspoconsult@n-somerset.gov.uk). Specific types of property PSPO – We do not think it is necessary, reasonable or proportionate to create new offences of causing ‘annoyance’ in a library, council carpark, museum, public toilet, or council building (‘Engage in behaviour as to damage to property, nuisance and/or annoyance’). No doubt that hundreds of people create annoyance for each other in these areas every month: because they are taking too long paying for the parking ticket,…

How falling asleep on public transport could land you with a criminal record

(A guest post by a supporter of the Manifesto Club). We hear a lot about how the ‘British justice system is the best in the world’ but I wonder if most people know how it really works. My family have just been through an awful experience, and are suffering from the fall-out. About a year ago one of my wife’s relatives took a long-distance bus journey. He was travelling alone. It was a warm summer afternoon and he picked a seat and, naturally enough, began to doze. At the first stop a party of young people got on, and a teenage woman…

East Devon Council to give dispersal powers to council officers

East Devon District Council is planning a PSPO banning aggressive begging, intoxicating substances, and behaviour causing harassment, alarm and distress. See the draft PSPO and consultation. See the Manifesto Club response below:   We are particularly concerned about the following elements of this proposed PSPO: – A ban on ‘aggressive requests for money within a street or public open space': What is meant by ‘aggressive requests for money’? A truly aggressive request for money isn’t begging – it is mugging. That is theft, and already an established criminal offence. Those who are begging are not mugging or threatening people to hand over their money:…

Litterpolice

The Corruption of Punishment (2016)

For several years, the Manifesto Club has raised the alarm about the practice of private companies being paid on commission to issue litter fines for local authorities. It is our view that punishment should never be associated with a financial incentive; private companies should never be paid per fine. When this happens, it is inevitable that miscarriages of justice will occur. It is inevitable that these wardens will not seek to punish the worst offences, in the public interest; instead they seek to issue as many tickets as possible. Even if there are no offences, they still must issue tickets, without which they will not get paid. The result…