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…

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…

‘Hand delivery not allowed’

(Guest post by Rupert Lipton) There is a new trend of public organisations refusing to accept documents, applications, correspondence etc. delivered by hand. I have now experienced this three times and it certainly makes my blood boil and seems a wholly inappropriate policy for any public organisation. The first occasion was when trying to deliver a Private Hire Drivers Licence application to Transport for London’s office in Blackfriars Road a few years ago. I wanted to be sure that the application was received, not trusting it to the post and of course, as a private hire driver what could be more obvious that…

My Aunt and her form-filling local authority carers

(A guest post by Tracey Logan) I recently had responsibility for organising the care of an elderly aunt with dementia. It shocked me how much time was spent by visiting local authority carers –  none of whom knew my aunt – writing notes about her mood and demeanour, and leaving them in a folder on the sideboard that nobody ever looked at. When my aunt eventually went into extra-care sheltered housing, the form-filling continued, even though there was an on-site team of carers who met daily and shared updates on residents. Each breakfast, lunch, evening meal and intervening visit would be recorded…

Busking and Public Space in the Busybody State

(A guest post by Jack Lowe) Last month, Havering Council announced their proposals for a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) in Romford town centre. If their plans go ahead, busking with an amplifier, or anywhere apart from locations designated by the council, would be a criminal offence punishable by a £100 Fixed Penalty Notice or a fine of up to £1000 if taken to court. What might seem like an exceptionally draconian response to performing in public space is an increasingly familiar story in towns and cities across the UK. Not only has busking been regularly included in plans for PSPOs, but…

North Somerset criminalises causing ‘annoyance’ in council carparks

North Somerset Council is planning a series of broad-ranging PSPOs, which would criminalise many otherwise innocent parts of life. Here is our response to the consultation (you can respond to pspoconsult@n-somerset.gov.uk). Specific types of property PSPO – We do not think it is necessary, reasonable or proportionate to create new offences of causing ‘annoyance’ in a library, council carpark, museum, public toilet, or council building (‘Engage in behaviour as to damage to property, nuisance and/or annoyance’). No doubt that hundreds of people create annoyance for each other in these areas every month: because they are taking too long paying for the parking ticket,…

How falling asleep on public transport could land you with a criminal record

(A guest post by a supporter of the Manifesto Club). We hear a lot about how the ‘British justice system is the best in the world’ but I wonder if most people know how it really works. My family have just been through an awful experience, and are suffering from the fall-out. About a year ago one of my wife’s relatives took a long-distance bus journey. He was travelling alone. It was a warm summer afternoon and he picked a seat and, naturally enough, began to doze. At the first stop a party of young people got on, and a teenage woman…

East Devon Council to give dispersal powers to council officers

East Devon District Council is planning a PSPO banning aggressive begging, intoxicating substances, and behaviour causing harassment, alarm and distress. See the draft PSPO and consultation. See the Manifesto Club response below:   We are particularly concerned about the following elements of this proposed PSPO: – A ban on ‘aggressive requests for money within a street or public open space': What is meant by ‘aggressive requests for money’? A truly aggressive request for money isn’t begging – it is mugging. That is theft, and already an established criminal offence. Those who are begging are not mugging or threatening people to hand over their money:…

Brighton PSPO will criminalise barbecues and camper vans

Brighton’s wide-ranging PSPO will further extend the powers of this busybody council to stifle city life. The planned order will ban ‘occupying any vehicle, caravan, tent or other structure’. This will prohibit caravans or camper vans from stopping for a night by the seafront. It will also be used to criminalise the large and long-established traveller communities in the city. Finally, it will prevent homeless people from putting up a tent to protect themselves on a cold night. The order would also prohibit ‘lighting or maintaining any fire’. This means that anyone using a portable barbecue on the beach must allow this to be extinguished…

Newport Council PSPO would ban tea and coffee

This is the Manifesto Club response to the draft Newport PSPO. 1. No person shall within the restricted area refuse to stop drinking alcohol or hand over any containers (sealed or unsealed) which are believed to contain alcohol, when required to do so by an authorised officer to prevent public nuisance or disorder. Manifesto Club response: The power of alcohol confiscation is an unnecessarily broad and open-ended power, which means that alcohol can be confiscated from people who are not actually doing anything wrong. When these powers have been introduced in other places, they have been used disproportionately to target homeless people…