Freedom Hotline's blog

Oxford delegates power to make new ASB laws to SINGLE council officers

One of the big questions about the implementation of the new wide-ranging 'public space protection orders' (PSPOs) was how councils will decide to pass them.

PSPOs allow for the council to ban anything which it judges has a 'detrimental effect' on the 'quality of life' of an area. But there are no proceedural requirements about how officials might go about this - so one council might require a PSPO to pass through full council, which would provide a democratic check; while other authority might delegate the law-making power to a single council officer.

This latter possibility is obviously extremely worrying, but extremely likely, given the emphasis in the use of these powers in a 'speedy and flexible manner'.

The war on street drinkers

One of the main uses of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act has been a direct and concerted war on street drinkers.

Of course, street drinking has always been frowned upon by some, and for the past few years police have had powers to confiscate open containers of alcohol in certain areas (called 'Designated Public Spaces').

And yet, street drinking as such was not a crime: police were supposed to only use confiscation powers if a person was behaving in a disorderly manner. They often abused these powers, but there was some form of available challenge.

ASB dispersal powers: The crime of being found in a public place

One of the new powers in the wide-ranging Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act (which came into force on 20 October) is the power to disperse groups or individuals.

These new dispersal powers are more draconian than the old dispersal powers (available section 27 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 and section 30 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003), in the following ways:

    - Areas do not have to be designated a dispersal zone in advance; a police inspector can on-the-spot designate any area a dispersal zone;

    - The new powers allow for the confiscation of property;

    - The new powers allow for somebody to be banned from an area for 48 hrs (rather than 24);

Defending freedom for football supporters

On 30 October, the Manifesto Club partnered the FSF and the Battle of Ideas to host a meeting about the regulation of football fans.

Here is a post by Peter Lloyd, author of the Manifesto Club’s report ‘Criminalising Football Fans – The case Against ‘Bubble Matches’, summarising some conclusions from the meeting.


In the wake of the 30 October debate, we should seek:

  • A recognition that football is overwhelmingly a force for good with generally well behaved fans, and with grounds and surrounding areas extremely safe compared to other urban environments;
  • Blackpool Council using new ASB powers to ban inappropriate dress

    I was just on BBC Radio Lancashire with Blackpool Council Cabinet Member for Housing, Public Safety and Enforcement Gillian Campbell. She said that the council would use the new anti-social behaviour powers today, issuing community protection notices against some businesses. She also stated the council's intention to use public spaces protection orders to ban street drinking in the town centre, and also to target the dress of stag and hen parties that visit the town. There will be a restriction on 'public nudity' or inappropriate dress in the daytime.

    How will councils use the ASB Act?

    The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act will go 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:

    Wrexham fans fight back against ‘bubble matches’

    A guest post by Peter Lloyd, author of the Manifesto Club report on 'bubble matches'.

    The football ‘bubble match’ phenomenon may be fading, thanks to increased opposition from supporters and with some major clubs, notably Newcastle United, Sunderland and Hull City, siding with their supporters to overturn the imposition of bubble conditions. This has been reinforced through greater awareness of bubble matches in the mainstream press.

    Westminster Council - stop the prosecution of young musician Dan Wilson

    A guest post by Jonny Walker, director of Keep Streets Live

    On Wednesday 20 August at 10am a talented young musician who has represented Great Britain in the world loop championships appeared in court in Westminster answering criminal charges of ‘illegal street trading’ and using a speaker in the street, for a 10 minute busk in Leicester Square early this year with a couple of CDs of his own music with a sign saying ‘suggested donation £5’ and giving details of his Facebook page. This was his fourth court appearance relating to this one incident of spontaneous live music and he now faces a fifth court hearing in November. 
If convicted this graduate of Leeds College of Music will have a life-long criminal record which will affect his ability to travel aboard, an essential part of life as a touring musician, and a heavy fine.

    The injustice of fining parents for a family holiday

    Parents are organising against the increasing habit of fining families who take their kids on holiday in term-time.

    Fines for truancy have grown astronomically – from 3,483 in 2004-5, to 32,641 in 2011-12, to the record 52,370 in 2012-13. In many councils the majority of these fines are issued to holidaying families (two thirds of the total in Kent, for example).

    Prosecutions for truancy have also grown, reaching 8000 in 2012-13. One couple recently received criminal records for taking their kids on holiday to Australia.

    Malaysian photographer refused entry: Testimony from Jemima Yong

    Jemima Yong, a talented young photographer and performance maker, was recently detained in London Heathrow Airport, denied entry and sent back to Singapore, 18 hours after arriving in the UK. Jemima is a Malaysian citizen and a permanent resident of Singapore. She studied and lived in the UK for five years. Jemima had not done anything illegal on arrival but the Home Office believed that she might break immigration laws whilst she was here.

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