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PSPO round-up

In our latest round-up of Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs), we find they are still being considered, enacted, and extended, for the same sort of crime and social problems.

Since October 2017, Nottingham’s Community Protection Officers (CPOs) have had the power which previously only police had to fine street drinkers. The city council has gone out to consultation for a PSPO to ban buskers and Big Issue sellers, except on authorised pitches; and urinating and taking psychoactive substances in the centre. In what looks like a clause against homeless people sleeping in shop doorways, obstructing the way in or out of any building will be banned. Critics of this and other similar orders complain that it criminalises homeless people. Another more general complaint is that the authorities already have public order and begging laws but (for whatever reason) simply aren’t using them.

Southend on Sea Council in November agreed to consult on a PSPO. A report to councillors spoke of increased anti-social behaviour (ASB) in some parts of the town in the last year. Southend BID for example complained of aggressive begging, rough sleeping, and drinking and drug taking on the street; mainly in the town centre and seafront. Human waste on the street, discarded drug paraphernalia in public toilets, and beggars outside shops were off-putting. The council decided to close one town centre public toilet block because rough sleepers were using it. The council’s new community safety team began work on Southend high street in October. The report admitted that other councils had found that PSPOs by themselves don’t solve problems, which it described as ‘persistent and unreasonable’. An order already bans on-street drinking.

A PSPO in West Thurrock in Essex, put in place against car cruising events in 2015, was extended for a further three years. Shane Hebb, Deputy Leader of Thurrock Council, said: “We know that these car cruising events have been a real nuisance to residents living in West Thurrock, and we are also aware that the PSPO has been a real success in cracking down on them, so I’m pleased that residents have backed our plans to extend the PSPO on car cruising events in West Thurrock.” Police report a significant reduction in car cruising in the area since the order, while some areas still see some issues. Likewise West Suffolk Council next month is to consider adding to the PSPO for Bury St Edmunds a ban on ‘congregation of vehicles’; that is, cruises.

Most commonly, PSPOs are used against dog fouling. For example, in Surrey a Waverley council PSPO banned dog fouling across the borough, from January 1. Dog owners and walkers need to clean up their dog’s mess and dispose of it properly. The order also requires the person walking the dog to have the means to ‘pick up’, such as dog bags, with them. Offenders who fail to clear up after their dogs can be fined up to £100. Likewise Bridgend County Borough Council is consulting until February 26 on a PSPO against dog mess. Richard Young, Cabinet Member for Communities at Bridgend, said: “We receive a lot of complaints about dog fouling in our communities. As a dog owner myself, I’m absolutely disgusted when I see irresponsible dog owners who don’t clean up after their dogs, leaving their mess on our streets and green spaces. Anyone walking a dog should always be fully equipped with a dog waste bag ready to do the right thing. Your dog can’t pick it up themselves! Despite considerable efforts to promote responsible dog ownership, it is still an issue locally. So, as well as introducing fines to tackle dog fouling we’re also proposing to make it an offence if a dog walker fails to put or keep their dog on a lead in public places when requested to do so by a council officer.”

Picture by Mark Rowe: PSPO sign by Teignbridge District Council at Dawlish, banning drinking in public, rough sleeping and anti-social behaviour such as littering.


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