Freedom Hotline's blog

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.

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'.

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.

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'.

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 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:

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