Campaigners have called for Public Spaces Protection Orders to be scrapped as new figures reveal there were nearly 10,000 on-the-spot fines issued in 2018.
The Manifesto Club, which has been campaigning against PSPOs since their introduction under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act in 2014, contacted 347 councils for data on their use of PSPO powers.
Of the 308 councils that responded, 147 introduced 276 PSPOs in the 18-month period between August 2017 and January 2019. This is more than double the 130 issued between November 2014 and February 2016.
The vast majority of orders included some form of restriction on alcohol. They were also issued for begging, swearing and rough sleeping.
The FOI requests also revealed a substantial increase in the number of on-the-spot fines issued for violating a PSPO. Fines have increased more than fourfold in two years, from 1906 fines in 2016 to 9930 in 2018.
Peterborough Council issued the most fines (2430), with Bedford (1489), Hillingdon (1125), and Waltham Forest (966) following close behind.
The Manifesto Club argues this is partly the result of some councils employing private companies to issue fines on commission.
The Government changed the statutory guidance on the use of PSPOs in 2017 in order to encourage councils to only target activity causing nuisance or harm.
The new guidance also said local authorities should not use PSPOs to target rough sleeping and restrict the everyday uses of public places.
The Manifesto Club said that the new statutory guidance is not working and that it is ‘almost impossible’ to challenge PSPOs through legal appeal.
‘We must conclude that the only remedy to these overbearing powers is a wholescale scrapping of the statutory legislation in which they are contained,’ the campaign group said.