Stop Doncaster's 'law against everything' Protect buskers. Don't criminalise the homeless
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Under highly controversial new powers sought by Doncaster Council and described by as a way of 'improving' the town centre it could soon become a criminal offence to busk, sleep rough with or without a tent, be annoying in the opinion of a council officer and even to stand around or touch parking equipment.
Doncaster's proposal to introduce a wide-ranging Public Space Protection Order would create a litany of nebulous and petty new criminal offences that overwhelmingly target the most vulnerable and marginalised members of the community.
Under these proposals 15 year old musical prodigy Alfie Sheard, whose viral video taken when busking in Doncaster was seen by millions and led him to an appearance on the Ellen show in LA, would have been committing a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to £1000 for 'Requesting money, donations or goods, including through placing of hats, clothing or containers'
The new powers would also give police and council officials the power to BAN people from the town centre whose behaviour they believed to be likely to cause nuisance or annoyance, a test so subjective and wide-ranging it could affect nearly everybody.
Whilst the council claim that the new powers are designed to help vulnerable people engage with services, the likely effect of the order would be to impose punitive fines and criminal records upon highly vulnerable people with a wide range of complex social needs. The police and the council already have a wide range of existing powers that can be used to target genuinely antisocial behaviour without bringing in new powers that are so open to misuse and misinterpretation.
The Keep Streets Live Campaign is a not for profit organisation which advocates for public spaces which are open to informal offerings of art and music and other community uses, and opposes the criminalisation of homelessness. We have campaigned against and obtained changes to PSPOs that would have criminalised the vulnerable in Chester and Oxford and worked with local authorities across the UK to advocate for policies that support a vibrant and inclusive street culture. We are asking Doncaster Council to rethink these proposals, which, if implemented, could lead to a damaging erosion of everyday freedoms in the public spaces of the town with a disproportionate effect upon the most vulnerable. Please take a moment to complete the public consultation and share your concerns with Doncaster Council.
- Mayor of Doncaster
- Chris McGuiness
- Pat Hagan
Whilst the stated intention of Doncaster's new proposed Public Space Protection Order is to 'improve the town centre' and help vulnerable people engage with services, the effect of the Order, if implemented, would be to create a wide range of nebulous new criminal offences such as being likely to cause annoyance and an effect ban on busking that would have a disproportionate effect on the most vulnerable members of the community.
The powers sought are too wide-ranging and subjective and are very open to misuse. They also duplicate existing powers that the police and council already have to target genuinely antisocial behaviour such as the Public Order Act.
We are asking the council not to implement the proposed order, but to work alongside charitable bodies and grassroots organisations such as the Keep Streets Live Campaign to discuss ways of promoting positive community uses of public space without bringing in sweeping new powers that criminalise the vulnerable.
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