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…

Vetting for school governors made a legal obligation

I have just received an email from a school governor: “I’m a Chair of Governors of a primary school and have been made aware of a new statutory instrument that was laid before Parliament last week, which mandates that all governors of maintained schools have an enhanced criminal records check, regardless of whether they’re undertaking regulated activity or not. Up until now, the decision as to whether to check all governors was down to the LA or body in question, and we did not routinely vet new governors. Despite being known to the school for over a decade, I will be required to…

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,…

The latest on travel-restricting ‘bubble’ matches

A guest post by Peter Lloyd: There has been some welcome reduction in the number of football matches subject to the draconian restrictions on freedom of movement that make them ‘bubble’ matches, as their discriminatory approach and blatant unfairness have become better known and objected to by clubs and fans alike. But already this season supporters of Burnley, Bristol City and Wrexham have been forced to travel on official coaches and severely restricted if they wanted to watch their team play at Blackburn, Cardiff and Chester respectively. Match kick-off times have been moved, pat-down searches carried out, roads closed and fans filmed by…

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…

Southampton Council prohibits ‘loitering with the intention of begging’

Southampton Council is proposing a PSPO prohibiting the following activities: (a) The consumption of alcohol or being in possession of an open container of alcohol is prohibited within the designated area. (b) Begging or asking members of the public for money is prohibited within the designated area. (c) Loitering for the purpose of consuming alcohol within the designated area is prohibited (d) Loitering with the intention of begging or asking members of the public for money within the designated area is prohibited. There is a public consultation. Here is the Manifesto Club response: These are extremely unreasonable restrictions on people’s public freedoms.…

Council bans the wearing of face coverings

Sefton Council in Liverpool has brought through a PSPO banning head or face coverings. Religious headwear is exempt from the restriction, but there are no allowances for the myriad reasons people may want to cover their heads – rain, for example, or cold. The order reads: ‘The head and face are not to be covered by hoods or any other face coverings save for specific items of personal clothing which reflect the individual’s cultural values’. The aim of the order, apparently, is to deal with gun and gang violence in the area. Yet the order did not prohibit gun or gang violence, since these are…