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 and police are creating a vague offence which would catch virtually anyone socialising or hanging out in the park. The police report noted:

large groups of males (both adults and young lads) stood around, frequently near the front of the park (adjacent to Foleshill Rd) sitting on the wall. Many of these groups use the park as a meeting point and are not engaging in any criminal or anti-social activity.

It is these groups using the park as a meeting point who are likely to fall foul of this vague order. Rather than enforce the perfectly good criminal law, the police are creating a second, nonsense offence, which will allow them to move any group on from the park. In the name of tackling anti-social behaviour, it is sociability itself which is being criminalised.