Interview: CPNs are being ‘given out like confetti’

Jim Nixon was a police officer for 20 years and has since worked as an ASB manager and consultant for councils. He discusses his experience of Community Protection Notices (CPNs) – why they are a problem, and how they might be improved. What is your experience of CPNs? I have seen CPNs being given out without a lot of thought to the evidence. I found that housing officers and ASB officers were giving them out like confetti, and police officers were doing the same. Officers have been given very little training around ASB in general, and there is a wide range of…

Interview: Environmental Health experts on the trouble with CPNs

John Pointing is a barrister and David Horrocks is a chartered Environmental Health Practitioner; together they run Statutory Nuisance Solutions. They have decades of experience in the environmental health field, and co-authored the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health guidance on Community Protection Notices. What follows is an edited transcript of an interview with John and David, in which the discuss the trouble with CPNs, the reasons for the falling standards in local authority enforcement, and what needs to be done. What is the background to the changes in environmental health enforcement? The shift in Environmental Health enforcement started to occur around 2003,…

Pensioner says that he’ll go to jail rather than pay cycling fine

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…

Lib Dem Councillors against ‘fining for profit’

We are delighted that the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors has decided to take a stand against ‘fining for profit’. Drawing on Manifesto Club work on the area, the ALDC has produced a Campaign pack and a Draft Council motion on the issue. These are only available to its members, but the council motion can be viewed here. If you are in an area where private enforcement companies operate on commission, you could contact Lib Dem councillors and ask if they will challenge these practices, pointing them towards these excellent ALDC resources. (Of course, the council motion might be of interest to…

Pensioner fined £400 for sweeping her street

We have been contacted by a Camden pensioner who was slapped with a fine for ‘fly tipping’, after she swept part of her street and put the litter in a bin over the road. Her street was filthy and had not been cleaned for a week. She swept up the street litter – largely cigarette butts and sweet wrappers – from outside her house and the house of her elderly neighbour, and put the half carrier bag of rubbish in the bins over the road. As a reward for her efforts, Camden Council sent her a bill for £400 pounds, and a…

CPNs: Do you need help?

Have you received an unjust CPN? Do you need help? We are partnering with the Freedom Law Clinic to provide legal support for people who have received a Community Protection Notice. Qualifying solicitors will work with CPN recipients to provide legal support, such as advice on appeal process, writing court testimonies, or submitting informal appeals to the council. Their work will be overseen by solicitor and Freedom Law Clinic director Luke Gittos. Qualifying solicitors will also prepare case reports of historic CPNs, documenting events and the legal process, and providing support where necessary. At the same time, the Manifesto Club will work…

Council prosecutes woman for bipolar episode

The Statutory Guidance for Community Protection Notices (CPNs) says that ‘Particular care should be taken to consider how use of the power might impact on more vulnerable members of society’. This would include groups such as the homeless, young people, or those with mental illnesses. We are currently in touch with a woman with bipolar disorder, who was issued with a Community Protection Warning (CPW) on the basis of unfounded allegations made against her by her neighbour. The stress of the CPW led the woman to have a bipolar relapse, after which the council issued her with a CPN and then a…

Campaign to End Fining for Profit

What is fining for profit? Private security companies are employed by local authorities to issue penalties for criminal offences such as littering or anti-social behaviour. These companies are generally paid per fine issued, which creates an incentive to issue as many fines as possible. According to a recent Manifesto Club report, 66 councils employ a private company to issue fines for criminal offences. 90% of these councils pay the company per penalty issued, or use another system that means that the more fines they issue, the more money they make. Fining for profit began over a decade ago, with a single company…

Pensioner given criminal record for weeds

For the past year, we have been in touch with an elderly lady in north London who has received a series of council CPNs for Japanese knotweed. Her case is tragic and perverse – and shows perhaps better than any the counterproductive nature of Community Protection Notices, and why they badly need to be reformed. The justification for CPNs was that these provide quick and easy redress for ‘victims’ of anti-social behaviour. However, the extremely low standards of evidence and procedure (requiring no production of evidence, and no formal process or proof of guilt) have yielded instead a system that is arbitrary,…

North Wales campaigners save dog walker from malicious fine

The group North Wales Axed Kingdom Security has helped a dog walker wrongly fined for having her dog off lead on a beach. The fine was issued recently, but it concerns an incident that occurred more than two years ago. The lady described what happened: It was December 2019 and I was on the grass by the theatre in Rhyl. My dog’s ball rolled from the grass across the path and onto the beach. I was on my way to get it then go back on to the grass. My dog was off lead but not out of control, she just wanted…

Why we need a Campaign for Democratic Governance

(Guest post by Peter Lloyd). If we take ‘governance’ to mean the processes of decision-making, including appointments, scrutiny, responsibility and accountability in our democracy, then much of it has been undermined, bypassed, hidden and ultimately corrupted in recent years. This has been laid bare over the last two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, but it also applies with a series of Net Zero measures and other major policies. These are policies and legislation which have enormous costs that are ultimately borne by the public, and which affect their everyday lives to a significant extent yet they are not subject to proper scrutiny.…