The tragic irrationality of CPNs

For the past year, we have been in touch with an elderly lady in north London who has received a series of council CPNs for Japanese knotweed. Her case is tragic and perverse – and shows perhaps better than any the counterproductive nature of Community Protection Notices, and why they badly need to be reformed. The justification for CPNs was that these provide quick and easy redress for ‘victims’ of anti-social behaviour. However, the extremely low standards of evidence and procedure (requiring no production of evidence, and no formal process or proof of guilt) have yielded instead a system that is arbitrary,…

Family with autistic children issued with legal order for ‘slamming door’

One council has issued a legal order to a family ordering them not to ‘slam doors’. The family has two autistic children, and so leaving the house can be something of a challenging business. Yet the council issued them with a Community Protection Notice ordering them to ‘make sure that when you close the door you do in a way that does not disturb others’. When the family pressed a council officer for specification, he suggested that they close the door with both hands. When the father said that he needed one hand to hold a child, the council was unsympathetic. The…

Grieving relatives targeted by dog police – and other crackdowns on dog walkers

Although we are still mid-pandemic, it appears that some public authorities are focusing their attention on creating more punitive measures targeting dog walkers. First, Dartmoor National Park is creating a new byelaw that allows dog walkers to be fined £500 if their dog’s behaviour, appearance or even presence causes ‘annoyance’ to anyone. There is no requirement that this annoyance have ‘reasonable grounds’. This means that dog walkers in the park put themselves at risk of a sizable fine, without themselves or their pet having done anything wrong. Meanwhile, councils persist in introducing PSPOs banning dog walking off leads on winter beaches. Dog…

UK councils, stop hassling dog walkers

With Britain under lockdown, dog walkers’ daily walk with their animals is literally one of their last remaining freedoms. Yet the Manifesto Club has been receiving an increased number of complaints about arbitrary and pointless crackdowns on dog walkers. New restrictions on dog walkers have been introduced under lockdown, dog walkers have found themselves in the dock, and dog wardens have been out in force. North Somerset has decided that now is the best time to criminalise dogs off leads in the whole of the borough. This would mean that there will only be a few designated areas where dog walkers can…

Horsham’s PSPO banning busking, periodicals, and more…

Horsham Council is consulting on a PSPO banning a series of new activities. It already has banned the racing of horse and carts, free running and urban gymnastics, and engaging in ‘nuisance behaviour’. Now the council is planning a further ban on unlicensed busking, ‘selling of periodicals which include a prize draw competition dependent on skill’, nuisance behaviour in carparks (which appears to be targeted at homeless people), and the drinking of alcohol in two public places. You might have thought that the council would have more pressing matters to deal with right now. Even in the midst of a pandemic, some…

Victory for dog walkers in Instow!

North Devon Council has at last listened to dog walkers and members of the public and modified PSPOs banning free exercise of dogs on beaches. Below is a note by Joanne Bell, from the Dog Walkers Alliance, who has campaigned against restrictions for the past few years. Thanks to all those who have engaged with various councils and landowners during this incredible and controversial saga for some 10 years – and more recently to those who took part in North Devon Council’s PSPO Dog Control Consultation. There is now no doubt that North Devon values what our dogs bring to society as…

Lyme Regis dog owners against the new dog-ban PSPO

(A guest post by Debbie Conibere, founder of Lyme Regis dog owners group). The Lyme Regis’s Loving Dog Owners, Visitors & Friends Facebook Group is asking Dorset Council not to use a PSPO (Public Spaces Protection Order) from 1 January 2021 to enforce a new blanket ban on exercising dogs off lead on the only safe and accessible beach in Lyme Regis. Instead, the group requests that laws already in place regarding dog ownership are enforced appropriately.  This will ensure loving dog owners are not unfairly penalised by only targeting those who break the law. This new PSPO ban will stop the…

Manifesto Club response to JCHR inquiry

The Joint Commission on Human Rights (JCHR) has launched an inquiry on the freedom of expression, and issued a call for submissions. One of the questions they are investigating is: ‘Is there a need to review the wording and application of Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) legislation?’ The Manifesto Club submitted a response to the inquiry, arguing that PSPO legislation is not fit for purpose and should be urgently reviewed. Read our full submission on the parliament website.

In support of PSPO reform petition

A petition has been published on the UK Parliament website calling for the review and reform of Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs). The petition states: We believe that local authorities are unfairly implementing Public Space Protections Orders that adversely impact dog owners, cyclists, bikers and others, without adequate consultation or consideration of the impact of these orders. The Government should review reform the rules for creating PSPOs, so the intention of an order has to be set out clearly in the consultation survey, consultations must have a minimum response within a certain time period, and evidence must be produced to support the…