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…

Protecting the public from cyclists?

(This is a guest post by Duncan Dollimore from the Cycling UK). As of 1 August cyclists could be fined for riding through that Mansfield town centre under new powers given to Councils to make Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs). PSPOs were introduced over two years ago under the Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014, to enable councils to prohibit certain types of subversive behaviour within a geographically defined area. Regrettably, some councils have used PSPOs as a geographically defined version of an ASBO to restrict the use of public space and criminalise behaviour not normally regarded as illegal. Such heinous activities include three…

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…

Football Fans Not Criminals

The Manifesto Club is supporting a new campaign, Football Fans Not Criminals, highlighting the ways in which ordinary law-abiding football fans are being treated like criminals. For merely attending a match and supporting their team, fans are subject to a series of special controls and restrictions which do not apply to supporters of other sports. There are 11 laws which apply only to football fans, creating offences which would not be an offence in a rugby or cricket stadium. It is an offence to carry alcohol into a football stadium, to drink in view of the pitch, to sell or give away tickets,…