How have councils used PSPO powers?

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 found that powers would be used to ban rough sleeping, ball games and 'inappropriate dress'. Here is a three-month review of how councils are using these powers...

Boston Council oversteps ASB powers

Boston Council has announced a ban on street drinking, with signs announcing that 'drinking alcohol or carrying it in any open container in this area is PROHIBITED'.

Yet these announcements misrepresent the powers provided in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act. The powers to make 'public spaces protection orders' is extremely broad, but one of the few restrictions is a restriction on a complete ban on alcohol.

The Statutory Guidance accompanying the Act states clearly:

Lincoln Council bans 'intoxicating substances' in city centre

Lincoln city councillors have voted in favour of a ban on 'intoxicating substances'. The policy will go before the council’s executive committee for final ratification on 19 January.

The law is made under new powers contained in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act, specifically the 'public spaces protection order' (PSPO) power, which allows local authorities to ban anything which has a 'detrimental effect' on the 'quality of life' of the locality.

Briefing Document - Monitoring Playgrounds

A briefing document by the Manifesto Club shows that schools' monitoring of 'racist incidents' has continued and expanded, with a new trend of recording kids' 'prejudice' based on gender, sexuality, 'home circumstances' and special needs.

The briefing document argues that these recording systems intervene in everyday playground interaction, as well as undermining teachers' authority and ability to deal with incidents in a proportionate manner.

  • DOWNLOAD THE BRIEFING DOCUMENT
      Media coverage:
  • Oz catches 'Santa's lap' panic

    An Australian child protection adviser has called for shopping centres to 'update child protection policies' so that children 'stand beside Santa' rather that sit on his knee. This sparked a national debate about the rights and wrongs of sitting on Santa's knee (Is it wrong if the child asks to do it? Where should Santa put his hands? Which part of the knee?)

    New ASB powers of eviction: Our homes are no longer our own

    A 22-year old has been evicted from her home in Plymouth, as police used the broad new powers of eviction contained within the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act.

    The Plymouth Herald reports enthusiastically that new ASB powers mean that somebody can be evicted from their home and asked to leave 'within the hour', if police 'tell the court they reasonably believe that there is, or is likely soon to be, a public nuisance or there is disorder in the vicinity of the premises'.

    Another council calls in the litter police

    Another council - Gravesham Borough Council, in Kent - will contract a private company for the issuing of litter fines.

    The Manifesto Club argues that the issuing of fines by private companies on commission can gravely distort the operations of justice and law enforcement (see our report The Corruption of Punishment).

    There are several salient points in Gravesham Borough Council's report about the contract:

    - There have only been 9 litter fines issued by council and police officers in 2014. This is likely to go up to two or three thousand once the company is contracted.

    ASB powers used against motorist meet-ups

    Colchester Council is planning a 'public spaces protection order' banning car enthusiasts from gathering in a retail park after 6pm.

    This comes after gatherings of hundreds of cars, organised by the East Essex Cruisers. Yet significantly, when police visited previous gatherings, they found that people were 'not doing anything much'; they were looking at each other's cars, some revving their engines or playing music on the car radio. The only offence was the sale of burgers from vans without a licence.

    From public services to CRASBOs

    In a post on the New Observer, Justin Wyllie points out that new anti-social behaviour powers are often being used against the mentally ill or other marginalised groups. He says:

    Campaign Against the ASB Act - and the hyperegulation of public space

    PSPOs image The Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act includes a swathe of unprecedentedly open-ended powers, which significantly undermine rights in public spaces.

    The Manifesto Club is focusing on 'Public Spaces Protection Orders' (PSPOs), which give local authorities the power to ban any activity they judge to have a 'detrimental effect' on the 'quality of life' of a locality.

    We also have grave concerns about many of the other powers - including dispersal orders and Community Protection Notices - which have the potential to be used against buskers, protesters or anybody the police or council officials don't like the look of.


    REPORTS AND GUIDES:

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