Stop the use of Public Space Protection Orders across the UK
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Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO's) are broad powers which can be introduced by a Local Authority to criminalise certain behaviours they deem to be Anti-Social in specific areas. Local Authorities have been using these powers to give on-the-spot fines for behaviours such as begging, rough sleeping, busking, occupying tents, vehichles and caravans amongst many others. The definitions of what can be criminalised are extremely vague and accrue "disproportionately punitive sanctions"(Liberty). PSPO's are geographically defined and make predefined activities within a mapped area prosecutable.
Many Local Authorities have begun to use PSPO's which, unlike bye-laws, do not require democratic process and do not need to be sanctioned by secretary of state.
This legislation paves the way for Local Authorities to prohibit behaviours that are not necessarily Anti-Social and they are being used to target some of the most vulnerable and marginalised members of our society. Anti-social behaviours are mostly covered by already exisiting byelaws. PSPO's bypass the courts and judicial process and therefore deny those penalised the right to a hearing. This also means that even though people's Human Rights are often being infringed, a challenge cannot be made in the court without huge legal costs. Fines of up to £100 can be imposed by council officers or private security firms. If however the person being penalised cannot produce when asked a satisfactory name and address they can be arrested and subsequently fines can escalate up to £1000.
Local Authorities may vary the order after review by increasing the restricted area, adding new areas or altering the prohibitions or requirements.
Certainly in areas where PSPO's are used to prohibit rough sleeping or the 'occupation of a tent, vehicle or other structure', the threat of on-the-spot fines is acting as a deterrent. However, if after a 6 month review of their use by a Local Authority, there has been an increase of these behaviours in other areas, they can extend the use of PSPO's to include these areas as well. This will leave Travellers and homeless people virtually no alternative places to go within a Local Authority's area of governance. This does not resolve the fact that there are not enough provisions by way of hostels, housing or authorised sites and pitches to accommodate people. It will just force people into other areas. As many Local Authorities are now introducing PSPO's, this could and is dramatically affecting some of the most marginalised and vulnerable members within our society.
We would like to see an end to the use of PSPO's nationally.
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