How will councils use the ASB Act?

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

A Manifesto Club report last month found that powers will be used to ban rough sleeping, ball games and ‘inappropriate dress’.

Here is the latest news on how councils and police are planning to use the new powers:

    Poole Council has obtained an order prohibiting street drinking and begging.

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

    Colchester Council plans to ban ‘boy racers’ from gathering in a retail park after 6pm. Stoke on Trent Council is planning a similar measure.

    Bath City Council joins Birmingham in threatening to use Public Spaces Protection Orders to prohibit busking. Canterbury City Council also threatens a crack-down on busking, including confiscating buskers’ instruments.

    Blackpool Council plans to use the powers to ban inappropriate dress.

    Boston Council said that they would use the powers to crack down on street drinkers – ‘the new Public Spaces Protection Order that will hopefully be introduced will be far more wide reaching than the (Victorian) Inebriates Act’. (This law has now passed). Huntingdon District Council is planning a similar measure, as is Liverpool City Council and Wyre Forest district council

    Leicester City Council is planning to use the powers to introduce a city-wide ‘alcohol ban’.

    Lincoln City Council plans to ban the consumption of legal highs in the city centre.

    Councils including Dover District Council, Oxford City Council and Bassetlaw Council
    will introduce more extensive controls on dog walking.

    A Cambridge City Councillor says that the council is ‘mesmerised’ by the new powers and gearing up to take a ‘heavy handed approach’ on issues such as homelessness. ‘The powers give council and police officers powers to order people around on a selective basis for behaviour which may not be actually illegal under the law of the land. They can create a grey area of jeopardy for all. There is a clear danger PSPOs get thrown up out of simple frustration, without regard to their effectiveness, their impact on the rest of the city or on underlying problems they are dealing with like addiction and homelessness. Common sense indicates they are unlikely to be a panacea.’ The councillor failed in his bid to have new PSPOs passed by full council, meaning that they could be delegated to a committee or single officer.

    Oxford City councillor Sam Hollick says: ‘These powers are too wide-ranging. The definition for what is antisocial is far too broad and I would worry about these orders being misused. It could lead to council staff feeling they can police what they feel is ‘appropriate’ behaviour. But it is important to remember the police already have powers to deal with criminal behaviour. I would also worry that this could see homeless people removed from the city centre. The council should rein in these powers and agree to only use them after a public consultation.’

    North East Lincolnshire Council‘s antisocial behaviour co-ordinator discussed the new powers to evict tenants and close premises. He said: ‘Some of these measures are quite draconian and could have a significant effect on the council. Quite where the money comes from is a massive issue. In certain areas you could probably evict half a street.’

EVENT, 21 OCTOBER: Debate these new powers at a Manifesto Club clubnight, What will the ASB Act mean for freedom?.