William Eichler 02 January 2018

Councils warned not to abuse anti-social behaviour powers

Councils warned not to abuse anti-social behaviour powers  image

The Government has published new guidance warning councils against abusing anti-social behaviour powers after charities claim Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) are being used to target people unfairly.

The Home Office says the revised statutory guidance on the use of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 is designed to provide local authorities with ‘greater clarity’ on how best to use powers such as PSPOs.

It is also supposed to discourage councils from using the powers against rough sleepers, buskers and other groups who gather in town centres without necessarily causing a nuisance.

According to the anti-PSPO campaign group the Manifesto Club, 107 local authorities issued a total of 189 PSPOs between March 2016 and June 2017. 19 of these councils have restricted begging and four have criminalised busking.

The Government says particular concerns have been raised by charities and other groups around the use of the orders against the homeless, buskers, dog walkers and people gathering together in small groups who were not engaged in anti-social behaviour.

The new guidance emphasises that councils must consult the police and community representatives before issuing PSPOs to ensure groups such as local residents associations, buskers and park users have an opportunity to comment.

‘We know that these powers are being used to very good effect by the police and local councils across England and Wales, and we are very keen to encourage their continued use,’ said the minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability Victoria Atkins.

‘But we are also clear that the powers should be used proportionately to tackle anti-social behaviour, and not to target specific groups or the most vulnerable in our communities.

‘The revised guidance published today will empower local agencies by providing even greater clarity on where and when these powers should be applied, helping them to keep our public spaces, communities and families safe.’

Responding to the new guidance, Cllr Simon Blackburn, chair of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) safer and stronger communities board, said: ‘Councils will take a proportionate approach to using the tools at their disposal to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.

‘We look forward to studying the revised guidance on how best to use these powers in a consistent, fair and transparent way to tackle genuine nuisance behaviour to protect people from distress or alarm.

‘Powers such as Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) are used following public consultation in response to local concerns.

‘Like any other council service, they are also subject to scrutiny by democratically elected councillors and can be amended if needed.’ 

Highways jobs

Chief Planning Officer

Leeds City Council
Up to £106k
Leeds is a city that’s brimming with confidence. Leeds, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Leeds City Council

Senior Revenues Specialist

Eastleigh Borough Council
£39,700 - £42,044
If you are excited by this opportunity and feel you have the skills, experience and attitude we are looking for, we would love to hear from you. Eastleigh, Hampshire
Recuriter: Eastleigh Borough Council

Environmental Health Officer WCC10676

Westminster City Council
£33,759 - £47,274 per annum
As an Environmental Health Officer in Food Safety or Health and Safety, you will be responsible for... London (Greater)
Recuriter: Westminster City Council

Children's Services Social Worker - ASYE Programme

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£28,215 - £34,130
You’ll need to demonstrate an interest in working with children and their families, and show us that you can manage the... Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Head of Property and Facilities

Essex County Council
Up to £74K
This role is part of the Capital Investment and Delivery leadership team and has a key role to play in shaping and... Chelmsford, Essex
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Local Government News

Latest issue - Local Goverrnemnt News

The March issue of Local Government News explores alternative funding channels that are available to councils beyond the Public Works Loan Board, what hurdles merging councils face in coming together, and how local government is handling GDPR.

This issue also has a special highways and street lighting section exploring how councils can use lighting to embark on their smart city journey and using IoT technology to weather the storm.

Register for your free magazine