The misuse of dispersal powers against football fans

(Guest blog post by Peter Lloyd). The police have been in trouble before for blocking ‘away’ football fans who are simply going to a match to support their team. In 2010 Greater Manchester Police paid £200,000 to around 80 Stoke City supporters who were incorrectly prevented from going to a game in Manchester and falsely imprisoned by containment, and then escorted out of the city and back to Stoke. Rules were supposedly changed to prevent this happening again but it looks like the problem has not gone away. Three years ago Wrexham fans successfully sued Humberside Police in a similar case. So furious…

Why we need informal events

(A guest post by James Woudhuysen). Why are music festivals now so popular? Where are they headed? Music festivals are part of a wider trend for people to find value in live entertainments that are not mass-produced or tightly structured like a Premier League match or a stadium concert. Today’s popular quest for authenticity bodes well for such informal events. In balloon launches or a pop-up Japanese cultural festival in Leeds, people now gain not just recreation or relief from the virtual world of screens, but also a real and tangible chance to find meaning and social solidarity. Yet informal events face…

The red tape that stopped me from volunteering to sit with the dying

(A guest post by Linda Hughes) Every now and then, the whole country is seized with a moral panic. Common sense and logic fly out of the window. Following the Soham murders of two 10-year olds in 2002, paedophile school caretaker Ian Huntley was found guilty of their murders and jailed for 40 years. The tabloid press went to town. In the prevailing climate of moral panic, the government asked civil servant Michael Bichard to report and make recommendations about child protection. Bichard recommended the setting up of the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). The Bichard Report was published on 22 June 2004 and made…

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…

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…

A right dog’s dinner! – on the new Defra guidelines on day boarding for dogs

(Guest post by ‘Dog Owners Against Discrimination‘). There has been a real ballyhoo on our campaign page lately, following the enactment of the Animal Welfare Act 2018 and the release of Defra’s Guidelines for private businesses offering boarding and day care facilities to dog owners. In recent years, these small businesses have grown in every locality. They are generally run by dog-lovers with big hearts and low incomes, looking to have their own business doing something that they love. For working ‘dog parents’ and busy families, doggy day care is a Godsend; drop the kids at school and the pooch at doggy…