pspos_young-peoplev4

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,…

All supporting actors need criminal check

All walk-on and supporting actors for the main TV companies now require a basic criminal records check. They need this for any production on which an under-18 will be on set, at any point and for any length of time. (A 17-year old on the set for a few minutes will require everyone in the whole production to be checked. The whole production will need to be checked if there is a chance that an under-18 might at some point contribute ‘as a result of last-minute changes to the schedule’.) The actor will have to pay the £25 check fee themselves and give the certificate…

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…