Briefing, 30 March 2015: How have councils used PSPO powers?

PSPOs image The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act went live on 20 October.

This included ‘public spaces protection orders’, which allow councils to ban any activity which they judge to have a ‘detrimental effect’ on the ‘quality of life’ of an area.

A Manifesto Club report last autumn outlined the problems with these open-ended powers, and predicted that powers would be used to ban activities such as rough sleeping, ball games and ‘inappropriate dress’.

This is a 5-month review of how councils have used these powers.


Oxford City Council has passed a PSPO prohibiting people under the age of 21 from entering a tower block, unless they are legally resident in the block or visiting a legal resident.

Cambridge City Council passed a ban on ‘open containers’ of alcohol. The order goes against statutory guidance for the Act, which states that alcohol cannot be prohibited outright, and so appears to be illegal: see our commentary on this.

Boston Council has issued a PSPO to restrict public drinking – the council said ‘the new Public Spaces Protection Order…will be far more wide reaching than the (Victorian) Inebriates Act’. This law has now passed. See our commentary on this order.

Poole Council has obtained two orders prohibiting street drinking and begging. One order prohibited ‘having an open container of alcohol in your possession’; the other prohibited ‘begging for money from members of the public for their own personal gain’.

Colchester Council has passed an order aimed at banning ‘boy racers’ from gathering in a retail park after 6pm. The order prohibits anyone in a ‘mechanically propelled vehicle’ from entering the retail park after 6pm in the evening unless using the facilities. It also requires anyone who has visited the retail park after 6pm to ‘leave the Restricted Area within 20 minutes of leaving the retail outlet or restaurant’. (See the text of the order; see our comment on this order).

Lincoln City Council has banned banned the consumption of alcohol and legal highs in the city centre. The order states that ‘Person(s) within this area will not ingest, inhale, inject, smoke or otherwise use intoxicating substances’ (defined as ‘Substances with the capacity to stimulate or depress the central nervous system’). This order will go live on 1 April. See our commentary on this order; see the council’s report on the issue.

Grimsby has passed a PSPO allowing the confiscation of alcohol.


Oxford City Council is currently consulting on an order to introduce controls on other activities in the city centre, including busking, begging, rough sleeping, pigeon feeding, drinking and dogs off leads. A council leader said that they sought to restrict anything that made people feel ‘uncomfortable’. The consultation is running until 31 March. See our commentary on the order.

Kettering Borough Council is consulting on a public spaces protection order in the town centre, which would regulate the following activities: street drinking, skateboarding, charity collectors, ‘using a motor vehicle in an anti-social manner’, begging, ‘anti-social parking’, parked up ‘cars for sale’, ‘unsupervised juveniles’, ‘loitering’ and ‘obstructing the highway’. See the council policy document. The council is consulting on a draft order until 24 April 2015: respond to the consultation here. See an open letter and sign a petition against the PSPO, set up by skateboarders.

Bath City Council is planning to use Public Spaces Protection Orders to prohibit amplified busking in parts of the city centre (Bath is currently consulting on the order.)

Blackpool Council planned to use the powers to ban inappropriate dress. It has expanded this to include activities including ‘loitering around cash machines’, ‘rag mag sellers’, legal highs, street drinking (targeted at ‘ stag and hen parties who carry inappropriate items or wear inappropriate clothes’), and the sale of lucky charms or heather. The council report is here; they will begin a public consultation in May 2015.


Cheltenham is considering a restriction on begging.

Councils including Southend, Bradford and Portsmouth are planning bans on legal highs.

Canterbury City Council and Birmingham are considering a PSPO regulating busking, a including confiscating buskers’ instruments.

Huntingdon District Council is planning a restriction on street drinking, as are Liverpool City Council and Wyre Forest district council, and Crawley Borough Council. Leicester City Council is planning to use the powers to introduce a city-wide ‘alcohol ban’.

Councils including Dover District Council, Oxford City Council and Bassetlaw Council
will introduce more extensive controls on dog walking. Carmarthen Council is planning new regulations on dog walking, which may include bans on off-lead dogs.

Norwich City Council is planning to ban skateboarding and rollerskating in parts of the city centre.

Stoke on Trent Council and Croydon are planning restrictions on car meet-ups.