PSPOs: latest petitions

Every week there are new PSPOs, and every week there are new public petitions against them. Here is a selection of the latest live petitions:   STOP DOG BEACH BAN, INSTOW, NORTH DEVON – a petition against North Devon Council’s plan to ban dogs from this dog-friendly beach. STOP DONCASTER’S ‘LAW AGAINST EVERYTHING’ – a petition against Doncaster Council’s plan to ban everything from busking to rough sleeping, even ‘standing around’ in the city centre STOP THE PERSECUTION OF UK DOG OWNERS – REPEAL PSPOs AGAINST OUR DOGS – A petition opposing the increasing use of PSPOs to squeeze dog walkers out…

Letter: Robbie Travers and university censorship

Edinburgh University law student Robbie Travers was put under investigation by his university for alleged Islamophobic ‘hate crime’, after he mocked ISIS on social media and a fellow student complained. It was only after a two-month investigation that Travers was eventually cleared of misconduct. Artist Michael Lightfoot wrote an open letter to the vice-chancellor of Edinburgh University, to voice his concern that the spirit of free expression and open debate was undermined by this investigation. Manick Govinda, a Manifesto Club steering committee member, was a co-signatory on the letter, which is republished below.   Dear Sir Timothy O’Shea We are writing to you…

Doncaster bans ‘standing around’ in the town centre

Doncaster is consulting on a vague, meaningless and potentially very repressive PSPO. It would target buskers and homeless people, charity collectors, as well as anyone who chooses to ‘stand around’ in the town centre. See the council’s consultation here. Sign a petition against the order here. The prohibitions are below. Each of these prohibitions would be a criminal offence, punished by a 100 pound fine or prosecution: ‘Requesting money, donations or goods, including through placing of hats, clothing or containers’ – This would prohibit all busking, as well as begging, and charity collecting of all kinds. ‘Returning to the Town Centre within…

Canterbury’s dog mess debacle: the crime of ‘not carrying two bags’

(Guest post by Jack Lowe.) Earlier this month, Canterbury City Council announced new measures in their attempt to kerb the problem of dog fouling. The introduction of a district-wide Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), coming into effect from early October, not only promises £80 fixed penalty notices for dog walkers who fail to pick up after their dog, but also for owners who fail to ‘demonstrate they have the appropriate means to clean up’. The definition of ‘appropriate means’ turns out to be remarkably specific: As a rule of thumb, our enforcement officers would expect responsible dog owners to carry at least two…

The absurdities of Richmond Council’s new PSPO

Richmond Council has created one of the longest and strangest PSPOs that we have seen, with no fewer than 35 clauses criminalising everything from rough sleeping to children using tricycles in the playground. It would be a crime to pick up a pebble, or to have your dog cause ‘annoyance’ to another dog or animal. The PSPO also criminalises people using parks for fitness training, and any behaviour that could be described as ‘sexually explicit’. This shows the dangers of these blank-cheque powers: new laws seem to have been drafted on the back of an envelope, picked almost at random. The result is a…

LGA Guidance on PSPOs: a campaigner’s guide

The Local Government Association has produced guidance on Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs), which may be useful to those seeking to oppose PSPOs locally or nationally. The guidance is non-statutory, and so councils are free to ignore it. But the guidance has advisory authority, and could be invoked by those seeking to oppose PSPOs in their area. It shows that there is some concern in councils and local authorities about the over-use of these powers, and efforts to direct them towards more reasonable uses. Some of the salient points in the guidance are below: 1. The LGA guidance suggests that PSPOs should target actually…

pspo-image-1

PSPOs – Rise and Rise of the ‘Busybodies’ Charter’

Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) are unprecedently open-ended powers, which allow a single council official to ban activities in public spaces. For an official to make a PSPO, he or she need only believe that a certain activity has a ‘detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality’. The phrase ‘detrimental effect on the quality of life’ is a broad and vague definition, which has no legal precedent. There is no requirement for the official to consult the public, or to have the order reviewed by democratically elected councillors. The powers were introduced in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, and went live in October…

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…

cpn-report

CPNs: The Anarchy of Arbitrary Power

Summary This report analyses local authorities’ use of the Community Protection Notice power in the year between November 2015 and October 2016, following on from our previous report on the use of the power in its first year. Our FOI requests to all English and Welsh councils with powers to issue CPNs, found that between November 2015 and October 2016, 4376 Community Protection Notices were issued. These orders have been used to impose highly unreasonable restrictions upon individuals, such as that they must not swear, they must not have any visitors to their home, or that they may not drink alcohol in their home. Homeless people have received orders…

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…