PSPOs and the ‘Preventative State’

(A guest post by Dr Ben Stanford, Coventry University). In the 2019 Reith Lectures, former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption described what he perceived as the law’s expanding empire into every corner of our lives. Whilst some of the law’s intervention is forced upon us, Sumption argues that two of the reasons for its expansion are down to collective choices – the growing moral and social pressures to produce conformity but also the constant quest for greater security and to reduce risk in our daily lives. Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs), introduced by the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, are…

How PSPOs are a threat to busking

(A guest post by Chester Bingley, head of Keep Streets Live Campaign.) The rather Orwellian-sounding Public Spaces Protection Order forms part of the 2014 Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act. Introduced by Theresa May during her time as Home Secretary, the aim of the Act was to streamline and speed up the process of dealing with antisocial behaviour and, in the words of the White Paper that proposed it “to challenge dangerous and yobbish behaviour of those who make victims’ lives a misery“. One of the frightening things about the PSPO is that Local Authorities are effectively handed a book of blank…

Comment on Birmingham school protests

Birmingham City Council is considering a PSPO to restrict parents protesting outside primary schools, in disagreement with the schools’ teaching on sexuality. Here is the Manifesto Club statement on the issue: PSPOs should not be used to restrict peaceful protest in public places. There are already powers to prosecute acts of intimidation, violence or harassment, but the peaceful expression of opinions should not be criminalised. Indeed, a PSPO exclusion zone could well be illegal: the primary legislation on PSPOs requires councils to ‘have particular regard to the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly’, to ensure that these rights are…

Stop Kensington and Chelsea Council stamping on street entertainment

Kensington and Chelsea Council is planning a wide-ranging crack-down on street entertainment, which will severely limit, and in some areas prevent, busking in the borough. The council has drawn up a ‘voluntary code’, which includes measures such as: limiting performances to 45 minutes; banning busking before 10am or after 7pm; limitation of performers to 6, or in some areas 2 or 3; requiring buskers to have public liability insurance; requiring buskers to limit sound levels. These measures would prevent choirs or larger groups, prevent busking at peak times, and restrict busking slots to an unreasonably short period. Still worse, the council is…

Richmond Council’s abortion clinic PSPO: Manifesto Club response

Richmond council is planning a PSPO targeting anti-abortion protests outside an abortion clinic on Rosslyn Road. Here is the Manifesto Club response to this proposal. Dear Richmond Council, The Manifesto Club would like to register its opposition to your proposed text for a PSPO, on the grounds that the text is too broad, and fails to target harmful or nuisance detrimental behaviour. We specifically object to the prohibition on Protesting, namely engaging in any act of approval or disapproval or attempted act of approval or disapproval, with respect to issues related to abortion services, by any means, including, without limitation, graphic, verbal…

The idiocy of prison smoking bans – report from the Isle of Man

A guest post by Stuart Hartill: Filming has finished for a TV series (as yet un-named) about life in the Isle of Man prison, due to be screened later this year. It’s the latest PR stunt for a jail which in 2008 proudly announced itself as the first smoke-free prison in Europe. But despite numerous uncritical UK press articles at the time, that wasn’t strictly true. This became obvious in 2011, when a long overdue HM Inspectorate of Prisons visit finally happened. In one press report, for example, Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons said: Many prisoners appeared to be intensively and…

The problems that remain with Nottingham’s PSPO

So far as we know, Nottingham City Council last night rubber stamped a PSPO regulating busking, begging, leafleting, and other activities in the city centre. After fierce opposition and criticism (including from the Manifesto Club, Keep Streets Live and the Musicians’ Union), the council reduced some of the conditions. These changes include – – A removal of the requirement to gain consent before handing out religious, charitable or political leaflets; – A removal of the requirement to busk in designated busking sites. Instead, busking is banned in two small areas, including next to the town hall. Yet significant problems remain with the…

Defra cracks down on corrupt litter police

For several years, the Manifesto Club has campaigned against the practice of private companies being paid on commission to issue fines on behalf of public authorities. Normally, the arrangement is that the company receives 50-100% of the fines income. Unsurprisingly, private litter wardens have engaged in corrupt practices, including fining people for non-offences or trivial acts, fining people for litter dropped by accident, and tailing or following people. Our report ‘The Corruption of Punishment‘ – in association with Panorama – found that fines by the private litter police had topped 140,000 a year. Still worse, private companies were moving into the policing…