An 82-year old man was given a £100 fine for cycling in Grimsby town centre. The cycling ban was part of a Public Spaces Protection Order issued by North East Lincolnshire Council.
Along with other local authorities in the region, NE Lincolnshire Council employs the private company Kingdom Security to issue penalties for its PSPO, which means that the company is paid per fine issued. Our data shows that, in 2021-2 there were 553 penalties issued by the company for violating the PSPO in NE Lincolnshire, and that many of these fines for cycling.
The 82-year old said that he didn’t know that cycling was banned in the town centre and hadn’t seen any signs:
I’ve been riding my bike around here for 40 years and have never once been fined. When he gave (the fine) to me I told him, ‘stick it up your a**e’. I’m more annoyed about it because my biking is what keeps me going.
The pensioner vowed that he would not pay the fine:
I’ve not got £100 spare to give them that’s for sure. I won’t be paying it, I’d rather go to prison then give them £100.
Is this what was intended with these powers against ‘anti-social behaviour’? A octogenarian slapped with a fine for pottering around town on his bicycle?
It is very likely that he was given the fine by the private security company employed by the council. So the result of this power – supposedly to stand up for ‘victims’ – would be to channel an 82-year old’s pension into the coffers of a private security company, for acts that nobody in their right mind would define as anti-social.
And far from making people feel ‘safer’ in communities, the gentleman said that he now avoids the town centre and feels anxious about cycling:
If I’m honest, I feel hard done to and I now worry about where I can and can’t go on my bike.
This fine was a disgrace – and it is emblematic of the whole rotten system of PSPOs, which has never been about protecting communities or victims of ASB. Instead, PSPOs have been used to create new petty and non-offences, the punishment of which is now being contracted out to private companies who issue as many fines as possible to increase their profit.
This dreadful fine needs to be scrapped – but so too does the whole PSPO system.