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PSPOs – Rise and Rise of the ‘Busybodies’ Charter’

Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) are unprecedently open-ended powers, which allow a single council official to ban activities in public spaces. For an official to make a PSPO, he or she need only believe that a certain activity has a ‘detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality’. The phrase ‘detrimental effect on the quality of life’ is a broad and vague definition, which has no legal precedent. There is no requirement for the official to consult the public, or to have the order reviewed by democratically elected councillors. The powers were introduced in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, and went live in October…

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…

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,…

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:…

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The Corruption of Punishment (2016)

For several years, the Manifesto Club has raised the alarm about the practice of private companies being paid on commission to issue litter fines for local authorities. It is our view that punishment should never be associated with a financial incentive; private companies should never be paid per fine. When this happens, it is inevitable that miscarriages of justice will occur. It is inevitable that these wardens will not seek to punish the worst offences, in the public interest; instead they seek to issue as many tickets as possible. Even if there are no offences, they still must issue tickets, without which they will not get paid. The result…

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…

Manifesto Club response to Redbridge Council PSPO

Redbridge Council is currently consulting on a PSPO that will ban busking in non-designated spots, badly organised pubic events, charity collectors in non-designated spots, spitting and ‘aggressive begging’. The Manifesto Club strongly opposes this order and considers it to be an unreasonable intervention into public freedoms. Our response to the consultation is below. You can respond to the consultation here.   Planned PSPO: “No person shall 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 in order to prevent public nuisance or disorder.”…

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…