CAMPAIGN - PSPO

GLOUCESTER PUBLIC SPACE PROTECTION ORDER (PSPO)

 

ESSENTIAL INFO

WHAT IS A PSPO?

Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) are divisive sets of powers that a council may use to criminalise certain non-criminal activities in a given area. The Anti-Social Behaviour, Police and Crime Act 2014 brought PSPOs into being and they are now being implemented in many boroughs throughout the country. These orders are divisive because while they can criminalise nuisances like purposeful littering or spitting, the broad wording used in their clauses can criminalise many more completely harmless activities. They also have the huge potential to adversely affect vulnerable and homeless people whether by design or by unintended consequence.

 

Many groups think that these orders favour protecting the aesthetics of the public realm over the civil liberties of citizens. There are concerns that the legislation that brought PSPOs into being is woolly, and that blunt sanctions for breaching the PSPO could be disproportionate, and not subject to rigorous due process. On the other hand, others believe that in order to make our public spaces safer, easier to do business in, and less anti-social, PSPOs are helpful.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN GLOUCESTER?

The Tory-run City Council are proposing a new Public Space Protection Order to cover Gloucester City centre as older DPPO powers expire. Gloucester Labour members met on the 26th January to debate the party's response to the draft order. If you are a party member and would like to read the minutes of the meeting, please contact the SecretaryThe CLP agreed that we had concerns about the wording of the order, the impact it could have on homeless people and that there are huge questions to be answered about the PSPO's enforcement. Click here to see how you can change the draft PSPO.

WHAT GLOUCESTER CITY COUNCIL IS SAYING ABOUT THE PSPO

"Gloucester City Council wants to seek the views of local residents, business and agencies in relation a proposed Public Space Protection Order for Gloucester City centre and a number of surrounding areas.

Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) were introduced in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Police and Crime Act 2014 as one of the tools to improve public safety and wellbeing in a defined area.

The proposed terms of this PSPO, and the geographical area to be covered by it, are all subject to change depending on the feedback we receive during this consultation.

The Consultation questionnaire will be live until 2nd April 2018.

In addition, Gloucester City Council will be engaging in further visits to key groups and partner agencies as part of the public consultation. If you are part of a group or organization who will be affected by the potential implementation of this PSPO, you can contact emily.jones@gloucester.gov.uk to request a visit to your group."

 
 

GLOUCESTER LABOUR'S POSITION

WHAT ARE LABOUR'S CONCERNS?

There is a Tory majority in the city council, meaning that this PSPO could be unthinkingly waived through even with opposition from Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors. Without significant change and clarification, the passing of this order could be very damaging to vulnerable and homeless people in our city. Party members therefore resolved to seek to change the order through the consultation process in the first instance, using the survey to highlight the problems with the proposed order.

So this order doesn't bluntly damage our city centre, and so that rough sleepers are not subjected to unfair treatment or spurious punitive action, we require that changes are made to the PSPO. The proposed changes below were agreed at our members meeting in January. We would encourage our members to use the following proposed changes as the crux of their feedback to the PSPO consultation.

 

KEY CHANGES DEMANDED

ON HOMELESSNESS

  • The order or its appendices must be specifically amended to include the assurance that homelessness or rough sleeping in and of itself does not subject individuals to the order. The order will only apply to individuals' behaviour within the geographical area of the PSPO, and that rough sleeping is not a covered behaviour and therefore not subject to any enforcement.

  • A specific exclusion must be written into Clause 8 or its related appendices that excludes homeless people/rough sleepers from the clause entirely.

PSPO CLAUSE 8 - UNATTENDED ITEMS
"Any person is prohibited from leaving items or belongings unattended within the designated
area. Unattended items will be removed at the direction of a constable or an authorised person."

  • A specific exclusion must be written into Clause 8 or its related appendices that excludes homeless people/rough sleepers from the clause entirely.

  • Provided that rough sleepers are excluded from this clause, if items/possessions are to be removed from the PSPO area, this should only be done after a sensible length of time has elapsed between observation and removal. If removal is to take place, the person enforcing the removal would have to note the time of observation, and the time of removal. This would prevent officers removing an item left temporarily by a citizen while they are busy (for example: bicycles/pushchairs outside shops or bags temporarily left outside).

  • If items are to be removed then the council must commit to providing a secure place that is independent of statutory agencies where belongings can be stored or retrieved with no additional cost passed to the owner of those belongings.

  • The wording of "unattended items will be removed at the direction of a constable or an authorised person" must be clarified. Does this mean that a 'constable or authorised person' may remove items, or can they only ask that items be removed? This text requires proper specificity.

GENERAL CHANGES

WORDING

  • The wording of this order is flabby at best, and requires serious rewriting.

  • There must be much tighter definitions throughout the order and its appendices, especially around enforcement.

  • The phrase 'authorised person' is too ambiguous. This phrase must be clarified fully, either in the order or its related appendices. In other words, who will these 'authorised persons' be, and what is their defined remit?

  • A 'nuisance' must be fully defined alongside a limited list of nuisance behaviours. As it stands, the interpretation of 'nuisance' is at the discretion of a 'constable or authorised person', which is not appropriate and could criminalise perfectly ordinary activities at the simple behest of an officer.

ENFORCEMENT

  • The order or its appendices must specifically state that removal of possessions or people from the PSPO area can only be done by police officers. Council enforcement officers may only make referrals to the police for this.

  • The order or its appendices must specifically state that enforcement of any clause is a last resort following respectful engagement and, if appropriate, referral to relevant agencies, the police or support options.

  • The appendices to the order must include specific guidelines on how enforcement officers shall be trained, their exact proposed remit alongside a defined list of nuisance behaviours, the number of officers required for enforcement and whether or not enforcement will be carried out 24/7.
     

DOGS ON LEADS

  • In Clause 1, rather than specifically stating that a dog must be 'kept on a lead at all times', it should be altered to 'kept under control at all times' which implies a dog must have good training or will be kept on a lead. As Gloucester Park is covered by the PSPO geographic area, this would enable owners to exercise their dogs in the park without being subject to enforcement.

  • Alternatively, an exclusion should be added to the order so that Gloucester Park is not included in enforcement of Clause 1.

POSSIBLE ADDITIONS

  • If the order must come into affect, an additional clause could be added preventing spitting in public.

  • If the order must come into affect, an additional clause could be added preventing pavement parking in the PSPO area.

  • If London Road is to be included in the PSPO in order to tackle street drinking, then Sebert Street could also be included as it suffers from similar levels of this problem.

  • There is concern that enforcement officers may not be able to deal with large-scale anti-social behaviour by groups rendering the order pointless at those times. It would not be appropriate to put an officer in harm's way due to underfunding or lack of officers. A plan for ensuring officers' safety must be included in the order's appendices.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO

We are asking members to either fill out the consultation survey or submit a full written response to the City Council. If the City Council is true to its word that "the proposed terms of this PSPO, and the geographical area to be covered by it, are all subject to change depending on the feedback we receive during this consultation", our feedback should initiate a rewrite. We hope that our members can flood the consultation with demands for significant meaningful changes, as outlined above, so we can ensure that the order does not adversely affect our fellow citizens or the most vulnerable.

If you wish to fill out the consultation survey, click this button to open it in a new tab. Refer back to our list here to inform your response.

If you wish to email the full list of demanded changes, please click this button to start an email to Jennie Watkins, Tory Cabinet Member for Communities & Neighbourhoods and copy and paste into your email the text from above.

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