Blaby Council – don’t ban young people from standing in groups!

Blaby District Council is planning an order banning 10 to 17 year olds from standing in groups of four or more. See news coverage of the order; see the consultation. The PSPO would cover the whole of the village of Countesthorpe, including the high street, cricket club and village hall, except for parks (see PSPO zones). The council has exempted the local school from the ban on young people standing in groups, realising that this may make school life somewhat difficult. However, it would still be a criminal offence for a group of young people to congregate at any time in the vast majority of public areas – a ridiculous and highly unreasonable prohibition.

See our response to the council below:

Dear Blaby District Council,

I am director of the Manifesto Club civil liberties group, and we are writing to express our strong opposition to your proposed order, which represents a major and unreasonable incursion upon the civil liberties of law-abiding young people.

Your proposal would ban all young people from gathering in groups from the vast majority of public spaces in the village of Countesthorpe, aside from parks. This means that they could be fined and receive a criminal record for the mere fact of standing in a group. (Thoughtfully you have exempted the school from this restriction, since it would make school life somewhat difficult).

I understand that youth misdemeanour as a problem – as it is in many areas – but I would urge you to make a clear distinction between criminal or extremely rude behaviour, and young people who are merely gathering in public. To prohibit the gathering of young people in public is to criminalise them merely for being young, rather than targeting the problematic behaviour. This cannot but make matters worse – it would be entirely understandable if it amplified disrespect for adult authority and the criminal law.

We would be very happy to discuss the matter with you.

Josie Appleton