Richmond Council has created one of the longest and strangest PSPOs that we have seen, with no fewer than 35 clauses criminalising everything from rough sleeping to children using tricycles in the playground. It would be a crime to pick up a pebble, or to have your dog cause ‘annoyance’ to another dog or animal. The PSPO also criminalises people using parks for fitness training, and any behaviour that could be described as ‘sexually explicit’.
This shows the dangers of these blank-cheque powers: new laws seem to have been drafted on the back of an envelope, picked almost at random. The result is a PSPO which takes the criminal law into the realm of the absurd.
The PSPO also bans dog walkers from walking more than four dogs at a time, which dog walkers say will put them out of business (they generally walk six dogs, and say that this can be done without problems). The dog walkers are opposing the order and have launched a petition. (They presented their petition to the council in a meeting which can be viewed on video here.)
Here is a list of the things prohibited by the Richmond PSPO:
- Rough sleepers will have to get permission from the council every night:
No person shall camp or sleep overnight with or without a tent, or using a vehicle, caravan or any other structure [in a public place to which the public or a section of the public has or is permitted to have access, whether on payment or otherwise] without the express prior written consent of the Council.
- It is a crime to pick a flower or move a stone:
No person shall cut, damage or remove any plant, shrub or tree. No person shall dig into, damage or disturb the ground or remove or displace any stone, soil or turf.
- Toddlers cannot use their tricycles in playgrounds:
No person shall cycle skate, slide or ride on bicycles, tricycles, skateboards or other self-propelled vehicle or electric powered vehicle or skateboard except scooters within the boundaries of an area designated as a children’s play area or as a sports playing area.
- It is a crime for a dog to cause annoyance to any person or animal:
Dog walkers must ensure any dog in their charge…does not cause annoyance to any person or animal.
- People can only fly remote control airplanes in designated areas, and these must be petrol powered.
No person shall launch, fly or land any power-driven aircraft other than of the approved type in a designated area without express consent.
- People cannot organise running groups or engage in fitness training, without booking:
Use of land for organised events, sports club training / matches or fitness training / classes is prohibited without a booking or other express consent from the Council.
And if anybody seeks to question or oppose these absurd laws…
- People cannot obstruct council officers carrying out their duties:
Obstructing a council officer from carrying out their duties is prohibited.