Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) – introduced in October 2014 under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act – allow councils to ban any activity they believe to have a ‘detrimental effect’ on the ‘quality of life’.
A Manifesto Club FOI survey published in February 2016 showed that 130 PSPOs had been issued by 79 local authorities – including 9 bans on swearing, three bans on rough sleeping, and 12 bans on loitering or standing in groups.
Since then, the rate of new PSPOs has further increased, leading to increasingly bizarre new criminal offences. Here is our selection of the 20 worst new PSPOs, including those recently passed and those out for consultation.
We are arguing that this legislation amounts to a ‘Busybodies’ Charter’: it needs to be scrapped or dramatically scaled back, in order to halt the growing criminalisation of everyday activities in public spaces and the undermining of fundamental public freedoms.
We are holding a weekend of protest on 6 and 7 August – #ProtestPSPO – to raise the alarm about growing criminalisation and to defend the principle of freedom in public spaces. See here for a list of events.
RECENTLY PASSED PSPOS:
Tendring District Council brought through a PSPO banning: persistent begging; sitting in shop doorways on more than one occasion or loitering in that area; remaining in a public toilet without reasonable excuse, or sleeping there; refusing to stop drinking alcohol or hand over containers likely to contain alcohol when required to do so. See the council webpage.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council banned busking and public speaking in the area outside Shepherd’s Bush tube station. The order prohibits: busking after 6pm; no amplification of music or speech; no busking for more than 1hr; no buskers within 50m of each other. See the text of the order.
Wrexham Council banned: sleeping during hours of darkness; intoxicating substances; being intoxicated; smoking in children’s playgrounds. See the order here.
Gravesham Council criminalised lying down/sleeping in any public place (except if you are homeless), including in a car or caravan. It also banned alcohol and introduced a restriction on riding bicycles. See a text of the order.
Walsall Council banned any activity which has a detrimental effect on quality of life. It also banned causing annoyance by playing ball games or through using any vehicle (including bikes and skateboards). See a news report of the order; see the text of the order.
Blaby Council has banned 10- to 17-year olds from standing in groups of four or more. See a news report of the order; see the text of the order. The council thoughtfully exempted the playground of the local school from the restriction, as well as bus stops or school trips.
Worthing Council has banned begging, sitting or loitering for an unreasonable time; being in possession of a receptacle used to obtain monies for the purpose of begging; remaining overnight in any vehicle or temporary structure. See the text of the order.
Cambridge Council has banned punt touting in the city centre. See the text of the order. Critics of the order have said that it will harm independent punt operators and that the city council stands to gain financially.
Kettering Council‘s PSPO officially came into force on 25 July, banning under-18s going out after 11pm, begging, unsolicited charity collection, skateboarding, swearing and loitering. See the text of the order.
Brighton and Hove Council criminalised unauthorised tents and caravans, the failure to remove an unauthorised vehicle, and the refusal to hand over your details to a council official. See a local news report.
Bassetlaw Council has brought through PSPOs for Retford and Worksop town centres, banning shouting, swearing, and young people aged 16 or under standing in groups of three or more. See the text of the orders.
Rushcliffe Council plans to ban street drinking and sleeping in any public place. The order will state: ‘No person shall sleep within the restricted area’. See the text and consultation.
Newcastle Council plans to ban face-to-face fundraising and begging. The order is due to be signed off at the end of the summer. See the text of the order.
Forest of Dean Council is planning to criminalise those who allow their sheep to enter the village of Bream in Gloucestershire. This order will prohibit sheep grazing practices that have been established for centuries. See the text and map of the order. See a blog post by the local sheep Commoners Association, who are opposing the order.
Cherwell District Council plans to ban drunkenness, sleeping rough and begging. The consultation will launch soon. See a news report on the planned order.
Colchester Council is proposing a ban on people entering an area in possession of roller skates, skateboards or scooters. The order would also prohibit open containers of alcohol and causing harassment, alarm or distress. See the consultation. (It appears that the consultation is being managed by the arms-length housing management organisation CBHomes).
Lancaster Council is planning to ban shouting, swearing, and any behaviour causing harassment, alarm or distress in Lancaster city centre. See a text of the order.
Burnley Council is planning to ban: begging; under-16s out between 11pm and 5am; unsolicited charity collection; misuse of skateboards and scooters. See the draft order.
Oxford City Council is planning to ban unauthorised mooring of boats, and noise and smoke from boats that causes annoyance. Boat-owners say that this broadly drafted prohibition will criminalise ordinary boating activities and make it difficult for them to run generators or heat their homes. See a news report of the order.
Wigan Council is planning to ban making verbal or non-verbal requests for money or donations, except on designated pitches and with council permission. See local news report. This would prohibit not only begging but also unauthorised charity collecting or fundraising.