William Eichler 20 July 2023

Councils issue record number of finds for 'busybody' offences

Councils issue record number of finds for busybody offences  image
Image: Daisy Daisy / Shutterstock.com.

Local authorities issued the highest ever number of penalties for anti-social behaviour – or for what have been branded 'busybody' offences – in 2022.

A new report from the campaign group the Manifesto Club found that 13,443 on-the-spot fines were issued for violating a Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) in 2022, an increase from the previous high of 10,413 penalties in 2019.

Nearly 160 councils issued at least one penalty in 2022, according to the report.

Introduced in 2014, PSPOs were brought in to target serious anti-social behaviour.

However, the Manifesto Club has warned that the powers were drafted so loosely that councils have used them to criminalise activities such as swearing, feeding the birds, busking, drinking alcohol, begging, and sleeping in a public place.

Out of 303 local authorities that responded to a freedom of information (FOI) request by the group, 266 councils said that they currently had at least one PSPO in place. Only 10% of councils had never had a PSPO.

Together the responding councils said that they had 2,003 PSPOs currently in place. Some of these included more than 20 separate restrictions.

According to the report, four councils banned shouting and four banned making noise. There are 22 restrictions on loitering, seven on busking, 11 bans on swearing/foul language, six on feeding the birds, and seven restrictions on rough sleeping/sleeping in a vehicle.

Josie Appleton, director of the Manifesto Club and author of the report, said: ‘This legislation is so badly drafted that it has led to a free-for-all for any council official who wants to ban anything. There are now thousands of petty restrictions on almost any conceivable activity in public spaces. These powers need to be scrapped or severely reformed before more innocent people are punished and our public spaces become the private spaces of officialdom.’

Tim Clement-Jones, a liberal democrat peer who has challenged PSPOs, said: ‘I have raised the issue of PSPOs several times in the House of Lords, but it seems that the problems with this power continue to pile up. The redrafting of the Statutory Guidance hasn't worked. The government needs to go back to the drawing board and bring through a properly regulated byelaw power that is not open to such abuse.’

Online Safety – Time to Act image

Online Safety – Time to Act

Schools still have work to do despite onus being put on online platforms to conform to new safeguarding legislation, says safeguarding expert Mark Bentley.
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Educational Psychologist

Essex County Council
£48727 - £52440 per annum
Educational PsychologistPermanent, Full TimeSoulbury Scale A 2-7 plus 3 SPAsLocation
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Domestic Assistant

Essex County Council
Up to £22361 per annum + FTE
Domestic AssistantPermanent, Part TimeUp to £22,361 per annum, pro rataLocation
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Private Fostering Social Worker

Essex County Council
£34712 - £46751 per annum + FTE
Private Fostering Social WorkerFixed Term, Part Time£34,712 to £46,751 per annum FTELocation
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Accountancy Tutor - Part Time

Essex County Council
Up to £28432 per annum + pro rata
Accountancy Tutor - Part TimePermanent, Part TimeUp to £28,432 per annumLocation
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Occupational Therapist Part Time

Essex County Council
£34712 - £46751 per annum + Flexible Working, CPD, Local Gov Pension
This is a part time opportunity for 18.5 hours per week with flexibility on working pattern. The advertised salary will be pro rata'd for part time England, Essex, Harlow
Recuriter: Essex County Council
Linkedin Banner

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.