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…

Comment on Birmingham school protests

Birmingham City Council is considering a PSPO to restrict parents protesting outside primary schools, in disagreement with the schools’ teaching on sexuality. Here is the Manifesto Club statement on the issue: PSPOs should not be used to restrict peaceful protest in public places. There are already powers to prosecute acts of intimidation, violence or harassment, but the peaceful expression of opinions should not be criminalised. Indeed, a PSPO exclusion zone could well be illegal: the primary legislation on PSPOs requires councils to ‘have particular regard to the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly’, to ensure that these rights are…

Stop Kensington and Chelsea Council stamping on street entertainment

Kensington and Chelsea Council is planning a wide-ranging crack-down on street entertainment, which will severely limit, and in some areas prevent, busking in the borough. The council has drawn up a ‘voluntary code’, which includes measures such as: limiting performances to 45 minutes; banning busking before 10am or after 7pm; limitation of performers to 6, or in some areas 2 or 3; requiring buskers to have public liability insurance; requiring buskers to limit sound levels. These measures would prevent choirs or larger groups, prevent busking at peak times, and restrict busking slots to an unreasonably short period. Still worse, the council is…

Richmond Council’s abortion clinic PSPO: Manifesto Club response

Richmond council is planning a PSPO targeting anti-abortion protests outside an abortion clinic on Rosslyn Road. Here is the Manifesto Club response to this proposal. Dear Richmond Council, The Manifesto Club would like to register its opposition to your proposed text for a PSPO, on the grounds that the text is too broad, and fails to target harmful or nuisance detrimental behaviour. We specifically object to the prohibition on Protesting, namely engaging in any act of approval or disapproval or attempted act of approval or disapproval, with respect to issues related to abortion services, by any means, including, without limitation, graphic, verbal…

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…

Response to Nottingham Council’s crackdown on busking, begging and leafleting

Nottingham City council is planning a wide-ranging PSPO, cracking down on busking, leafleting, begging and charity collection. The council employs over 100 community protection officers, who are notoriously heavy-handed and will make these prohibitions count. You can view the PSPO here, and send your submissions to the council by 3 October. The Manifesto Club response is below. We will be working with the organisation Keep Streets Live, and with local residents, to oppose this PSPO.   Dear Nottingham City Council, Here is a response from the Manifesto Club, regarding your proposed draft PSPO. Restriction on busking: We do not think that it…

‘Helping’ the homeless by fining them

The new Home Office Statutory Guidance included a restriction on councils using PSPOs to target the homeless. Some councils have heeded this, and withdrawn or modified PSPOs that affect homeless people. But others seem to have taken another approach: they introduce a PSPO banning begging or rough sleeping, but insist that they are only doing it to help and support homeless people. Doncaster Council has brought though a PSPO that bans sleeping overnight in  the town centre, begging, lying or sitting in or adjacent to doorways. This amounts to an outright ban on homelessness, yet the council insists that it is doing…

It is terrifying that the police can now make the law

In theory, a PSPO is a power used by councils, on the basis that they are democratically elected institutions. Before passing the PSPO, the council must consult the local police force, in order to check that they are able to enforce it. The reality, however, is that police forces are becoming actively involved in the writing of these laws. In Cheshire West and Chester, a PSPO (which included a ban on rough sleeping, begging, and busking outside of designated pitches) was proposed in a report by a local chief inspector. Police influence is the reason for the frequent appearance of a dispersal…