Swindon PSPO leads to ‘thousands’ stopped

We are often asked how PSPOs are enforced, in terms of the numbers stopped, fined, and prosecuted. Fines are significant but relatively low, as are prosecutions. The main use of PSPOs, we have suspected, is for behaviour policing – telling people to move on or stop what they are doing. These incidents are often not recorded, so we’ll never know how many young people were stopped from skateboarding, or how many homeless people were moved out of town. An article in Swindon’s local paper says that ‘thousands’ of people have been told that they were contravening the town’s PSPO, which includes bans…

Poole councillors rebel over homeless ban

Labour and Lib Dem councillors have called in a Tory PSPO targeting the homeless. The order – which bans begging, rough sleeping in doorways before midnight- was passed by an unelected officer. A Lib Dem councillor said that he was ‘appalled’ that the decision had been made ‘behind closed doors’. Councillors also noted that the PSPO contradicted new Home Office guidance, which states that orders should not target rough sleeping. Now it has transpired that the PSPO even went against the results of the public consultation, which the council had failed to publish. 59% had said that they disagreed with a ban on rough…

PSPOs: Latest news

Here is the latest news on the implementation and enforcement of PSPOs. This shows that councils are continuing to pass and enforce unreasonable PSPOs, in spite of the new Statutory Guidance.   Runnymede Borough Council plans to ban standing in groups that causes ‘annoyance’, and face coverings ‘in an attempt to conceal identity’. You can respond to the consultation here. Ealing Council is seeking to ban anti-abortion protests outside an abortion clinic. The consultation starts here at the end of January Elmbridge Borough Council has banned ‘rowdy and inconsiderate behaviour’. See a news story here. A man in Retford was convicted and…

Against the abortion clinic PSPOs

Ealing and Portsmouth councils are planning to use Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) to ban anti-abortion protests outside abortion clinics. Ealing has approved the plan, and will start consulting at the end of January. It certainly appears that some of these protesters are guilty of harassment, with acts including blocking people’s paths, trespassing on clinic property, filming women entering the clinic, and displaying offensive imagery. However, this does not mean that PSPOs should be used to create ‘buffer zones’, which would criminalise protests or gatherings per se within a certain distance of the clinic. The proposed PSPOs would create a sort of ‘no-protest…

Dozens of council orders now illegal under new government guidance

The Home Office has published new Statutory Guidance governing Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs), a power that has been used to ban a wide range of public activities, including ball games, rough sleeping and standing in groups. We have carried out FOI surveys into the use of the PSPO power in the period up until June 2017 (this data is available in one report published in February 2016, and another in July 2017). Using this data, we estimate that around a fifth of existing PSPOs are explicitly prohibited, or strongly advised against, by the new guidance. The important change is that the new…

Statutory Guidance on PSPOs: A campaigner’s guide

After campaigning from the Manifesto Club and others, the Home Office has released new Statutory Guidance covering the use of anti-social behaviour powers, including Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) and Community Protection Notices (CPNs). We still believe that these powers are inherently flawed and should be scrapped altogether. This Guidance is not perfect and could have gone further, but nonetheless it makes several important changes, and could significantly limit the abuse of these new powers. Here are the significant new elements to the Statutory Guidance, below:   PUBLIC SPACES PROTECTION ORDERS GUIDANCE 1. The Guidance states that PSPOs should target the activity causing…

PSPOs: latest petitions

Every week there are new PSPOs, and every week there are new public petitions against them. Here is a selection of the latest live petitions:   STOP DOG BEACH BAN, INSTOW, NORTH DEVON – a petition against North Devon Council’s plan to ban dogs from this dog-friendly beach. STOP DONCASTER’S ‘LAW AGAINST EVERYTHING’ – a petition against Doncaster Council’s plan to ban everything from busking to rough sleeping, even ‘standing around’ in the city centre STOP THE PERSECUTION OF UK DOG OWNERS – REPEAL PSPOs AGAINST OUR DOGS – A petition opposing the increasing use of PSPOs to squeeze dog walkers out…

Doncaster bans ‘standing around’ in the town centre

Doncaster is consulting on a vague, meaningless and potentially very repressive PSPO. It would target buskers and homeless people, charity collectors, as well as anyone who chooses to ‘stand around’ in the town centre. See the council’s consultation here. Sign a petition against the order here. The prohibitions are below. Each of these prohibitions would be a criminal offence, punished by a 100 pound fine or prosecution: ‘Requesting money, donations or goods, including through placing of hats, clothing or containers’ – This would prohibit all busking, as well as begging, and charity collecting of all kinds. ‘Returning to the Town Centre within…

Canterbury’s dog mess debacle: the crime of ‘not carrying two bags’

(Guest post by Jack Lowe.) Earlier this month, Canterbury City Council announced new measures in their attempt to kerb the problem of dog fouling. The introduction of a district-wide Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), coming into effect from early October, not only promises £80 fixed penalty notices for dog walkers who fail to pick up after their dog, but also for owners who fail to ‘demonstrate they have the appropriate means to clean up’. The definition of ‘appropriate means’ turns out to be remarkably specific: As a rule of thumb, our enforcement officers would expect responsible dog owners to carry at least two…

The absurdities of Richmond Council’s new PSPO

Richmond Council has created one of the longest and strangest PSPOs that we have seen, with no fewer than 35 clauses criminalising everything from rough sleeping to children using tricycles in the playground. It would be a crime to pick up a pebble, or to have your dog cause ‘annoyance’ to another dog or animal. The PSPO also criminalises people using parks for fitness training, and any behaviour that could be described as ‘sexually explicit’. This shows the dangers of these blank-cheque powers: new laws seem to have been drafted on the back of an envelope, picked almost at random. The result is a…