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Stop Public Space Protection Orders from being enforced in Brighton and across the UK

This petition had 2,636 supporters

Don't criminalise the homeless!

PSPOs will give the Council and Police powers to ban being homeless in a tent or structure, caravan or vehicle across 12 locations in the city.

This legislation will criminalise the homeless for the 'crime' of not having a roof over their head.

People occupying vehicles or tents can be issued with a £75 fine and those that fail to provide an address to a council or police officer can be arrested and held in custody until a hearing looks at the matter. This is outside the scope of Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 s68 which deals with fixed penalty notices and thus ultra vires. This will effectively make it criminal offence to not have an address.  . Living in a vehicle or caravan or sleeping rough in themselves are not anti-social activity and, therefore, are totally outside the remit of PSPOs. The lawfulness of PSPOs have also been questioned by specialist lawyers, the Equality and Humans Rights Commission (EHRC), Liberty and other local and national charities

Liberty have stated that PSPOs:

(a) are being used to criminalise the poorest and most vulnerable in our society such as the homeless and people begging;

(b) are being used to stifle freedom of expression and association; 

EHRC, Liberty and Human rights lawyers have also stated that this legislation will breach article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to respect for private and family life and home, as enshrined in domestic law by the Human Rights Act 1998.

There are many homeless Travellers living in caravans and vehicles across the city. Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers are a protected ethnic minority and their way of life will be criminalised by this legislation. We see the right to pursue a nomadic life as a human right and also as something that goes some way to addressing the lack of affordable housing in Brighton and Hove for both ethnic and non-ethnic Travellers. Travellers are providing affordable accommodation for themselves and their families. There is no social housing stock or affordable accommodation for these people to move into even if they wished to do so.

We believe that the lack of affordable housing, rising levels of homelessness and the national shortage of site provision for Travellers should be addressed rather than banning Travellers and the homeless from Brighton and shifting the 'problem' to another area. 

We, the undersigned, do not want PSPOs enforced in our local community or anywhere in the UK because they stop people from being able to engage in public spaces in a positive way and criminalise outdoor activities. Brighton and Hove are surrounded by natural beauty with the Downs on one side and the seafront on the other. These areas should be respected and the public should be able to engage with them. Public spaces should be for the use of all members of the public and people should have freedom of movement. Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) are broad powers which allow councils to criminalise particular, non-criminal, activities taking place within a specified area. Therefore, PSPOs could easily be misused with people using them to harass other park users for activities they consider anti-social. They is huge potential for PSPOS to infringe on civil liberties, and ultimately be too punitive. By their very nature, they discriminate against gypsies, travellers and homeless people.

According to the Policy, Resources and Growth committee of Brighton and Hove council who are making the decision on PSPOs: "The use of PSPOs in city parks and open spaces is likely to disproportionately impact on some sections of society."

Many people in the community will be affected by PSPOs but people specifically targeted include so called "ethnically defined Gypsies and Travellers" and "people who choose to sleep in tents rather than rough sleep in the city centre". These sub-groups are human beings who should still be entitled to civil liberties/human rights.  

Under a PSPO the following would be prohibited, which would not only impact the most vulnerable people in Brighton and Hove, including rough sleepers, but also the general public wishing to engage with public spaces in a positive way in a community spirit. .

- Occupying any vehicle, caravan, tent or other structure
- Driving any vehicle on grass
- Littering or fly tipping (which already caries a £75 penalty)
- Lighting or maintaining a fire

Described as "positive requirements" people to be seen in breach of the "prohibitions" will be punished by one or several of the following:
- Removing any vehicle, caravan, tent or other structure within 12 hours
- Disposing of items as directed
- Permitting a council, police or fire officer to extinguish a fire
- Providing name, address and date of birth when required to do so by a council or police officer

Breaching a PSPO is considered a criminal offence. A fixed penalty notice can be issued or a summons can be served. It is likely that a fixed penalty notice will carry a fine of £75.00, this is the same fine that is applied to a fixed penalty notice in relation to littering and flytipping. The amount of the fine will be kept under review. If police are not satisfied regarding the identification or an address given by an offender they can arrest under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. A breach of a PSPO can be enforced by a council or police officer. This effectively criminalises being homeless and having a fire on the beach with friends.

Areas that will be impacted by PSPOs are:

Greenway (adjacent to railway New England Quarter)
Hollingbury Park
Lawn Memorial Cemetery and adjacent land (Woodingdean)
Preston Park
Rottingdean Recreation Ground
The seafront including the A259 from Black Rock to Hove Lagoon
Sheepcote Valley and East Brighton Park
St Helens Green
Stanmer Park
Surrenden Field
Wild Park

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