Busybodies’ Charter Update: The 20 worst new PSPOs

Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) – introduced in October 2014 under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act – allow councils to ban any activity they believe to have a ‘detrimental effect’ on the ‘quality of life’. A Manifesto Club FOI survey published in February 2016 showed that 130 PSPOs had been issued by 79 local authorities – including 9 bans on swearing, three bans on rough sleeping, and 12 bans on loitering or standing in groups. Since then, the rate of new PSPOs has further increased, leading to increasingly bizarre new criminal offences. Here is our selection of the 20 worst new PSPOs,…

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PSPOs: A Busybodies’ Charter

PSPOS — Blank-Cheque Powers Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) are unprecedently ‘blank cheque’ powers, which allow a single council official to ban activities in public spaces within a matter of days, after a brief consultation with the police. These measures have been presented as a decentralisation of power to local communities, but in reality central government has given certain council officers the powers to create new criminal laws, with minimal checks and balances and a very low burden of proof. Our FOI requests have found that since the enacting of PSPOs as part of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act on 20 October 2014, 130 PSPOs have been passed in…

Blaby Council – don’t ban young people from standing in groups!

Blaby District Council is planning an order banning 10 to 17 year olds from standing in groups of four or more. See news coverage of the order; see the consultation. The PSPO would cover the whole of the village of Countesthorpe, including the high street, cricket club and village hall, except for parks (see PSPO zones). The council has exempted the local school from the ban on young people standing in groups, realising that this may make school life somewhat difficult. However, it would still be a criminal offence for a group of young people to congregate at any time in the…

Take action! – current PSPO consultations

Here are some current consultations on PSPOs proposing unreasonable restrictions on public spaces. Do respond – especially if you live in the area. Blaby District Council is planning an order banning 10 to 17 year olds from standing in groups of four or more. See news coverage of the order; see the consultation. The PSPO would cover the whole of the village of Countesthorpe, including the high street, cricket club and village hall, except for parks (see PSPO zones). The council has thoughtfully exempted the local school from the ban on young people standing in groups, realising that this may make school…

Teignbridge Council bans rough sleeping and swearing

Teignbridge Council’s executive committee has passed a new PSPO, targeting the seaside town of Dawlish. The PSPO bans a wide range of activities including: sleeping after the hours of darkness, shouting or swearing, and the consumption of legal highs and alcohol. The council claims there have been some crimes in the area (including criminal damage and drug use), but there are already laws against these. The main complaint seems to be that a group of street drinkers are hanging out and messing up a pretty seaside town. The council was keen to have the order in place by the summer: ‘Failure to have this…

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CPNs: The crime of crying in your own home

For two years, the Manifesto Club has been campaigning against ‘blank-cheque’ Public Spaces Protection Order powers, which allow a local authority to prohibit any activity it believes to have a detrimental effect on the quality of life. There has been some public opposition to particular PSPOs, which have led to draft orders being modified or withdrawn. In the process of this campaign, we have become aware that other powers in the same act – Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 – are being used to a similar effect, but have gone beneath the radar of public discussion and debate. These powers include Community Protection Notices, an order which…

Hackney: history of the defeat of a PSPO

A guest post by Samir Jeraj, outlining the progress of events in the London borough of Hackney, where a PSPO banning homelessness was successfully overturned by residents. Soon after the May 2015 elections, our local newspaper The Hackney Citizen published a warning from Crisis, a national homelessness charity. Their Chief Executive, Jon Sparkes, was warning that a new ‘Public Space Protection Order’ from Hackney Council would criminalise homeless people. Sophie Linden, the Councillor in charge of the PSPO, said: ‘The level of street drinking, persistent rough sleeping and the associated anti-social behaviour in the area reached the point that we had to…

PSPO for Coventry park criminalises standing in groups

Coventry City Council is planning a PSPO for a public park, which will prohibit ‘congregation of groups of 2 or more persons in the Designated Area where the behaviour of some or all members of the group has or is likely to have a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the community’. This incredibly broad PSPO is being planned in a park where there appear to be very serious problems – allegations of drug dealing, assault, even the procurement of under-age children for sex. Yet rather than focus on the individuals committing these very serious offences, the council…

Oxford Council takes its character-robbing PSPOs down to the river

Oxford City Council is continuing its campaign to squeeze spontaneous social life and character out of the city with a new PSPO, this time targeting the city’s waterways. The order will prohibit mooring without permission of the landowner, storing items on the bank without permission of the landowner, smoke or noise pollution which causes annoyance to others; it will also give council officers powers to confiscate alcohol and to order people to put their dogs on leads. In its evidence, the council cited the 95 reported crimes that had occurred on the waterways in 19 months, including arson, burglary from boathouses, assault, drug dealing,…

Kettering Council’s draconian and unnecessary PSPO

Kettering Council has just passed a draconian and entirely unnecessary PSPO. This order (available in Appendix B here) will ban a series of activities which are in themselves not causing of public nuisance or harm. The result is that people will be fined and criminalised merely for being in a public place, for skateboarding, begging, or for swearing. The PSPO will ban: – ‘Loitering’ – The council’s report says: ‘The police have concerns about the number of people who use the roadways in Kettering as a place to congregate and socialise, particularly at night’. The council does not specify the actual harm…