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…

How Southampton PSPO is affecting the lives of the homeless

(A guest post by members of Food not Bombs Southampton, on how the PSPO ban on begging is affecting the city’s homeless). It’s 8:30 pm and we walk along the High Street. The night is clear and noisy as Southampton University fresher students are grouping; dressed in fancy dress and odd clothing for the night out as they go to face the youth bars. University life is beginning for many and excitement is in the air. The cold night sky is full of stars and there is the feeling of an encroaching frost – definitely coat weather for most. We have come…

Newcastle and Sunderland – the crackdown on the homeless continues

Two particularly objectionable PSPOs are currently out for consultation. Newcastle Council seeks to create a series of wide-ranging new crimes. There is a ban on ‘aggressive begging’ – a commonly used but questionable phrase, since begging is not a naturally aggressive act. When spelled out in practice in other PSPOs, ‘aggressive begging’ is defined as when members of the public feel pressured or obliged to give money, such as in cases as when the beggar is sitting near a cash machine. Yet the PSPO goes much further than this already problematic definition: it also prohibits anyone to ‘have in their possession any item for holding,…

Free running is not a sport, not a crime

Horsham Council has banned free running in its town centre, meaning that people could be fined or prosecuted for such activities as jumping over bollards or vaulting walls. The cabinet member for community and wellbeing said that free running counted among the ‘anti-social’ acts that were an ‘issue for the local community’. Yet free running (or parkour) is presumably being practiced by some members of the local community. It is a recognised sport and art form, coming with a high degree of self-discipline and a particular way of viewing the urban space. A Horsham 17-year-old free runner said that they had ‘utmost respect for…