In Kingdom Local Authority Support’s latest podcast, John Roberts, Solutions Director, and Will Russell, Operations Director, discuss Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) and how Kingdom can help local authorities use them effectively.
What are Public Space Protection Orders?
PSPOs are a tool available to councils to address anti-social behaviour (ASB) in their local areas. They can be implemented under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.
Orders can be introduced in a specific public area where the local authority is satisfied that:
§ activities that have taken place have had a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality
§ the effect of these activities is persistent and/or unreasonable
§ the activities justify the restrictions being imposed
Kingdom and PSPOs – Enforcement in action
With an estimated 13 million dogs in the UK, it only takes a minority of anti-social owners to create a big, and sometimes very messy, problem! PSPOs encompass much of the previous dog control legislation and Kingdom has a lot of experience in helping councils encourage ‘better owners’ - and taking enforcement action when necessary.
Take dog exclusion zones which coastal authorities often use between May and September to safely zone beaches as dog and non-dog recreational areas. We advise on signposting with the onus on clear demarcation and no ambiguity, which greatly minimises the incidence of non-compliance in the first place; and makes enforcement easier for our patrol teams.
Another growth area is around preventing dog fouling, with PSPOs giving police officers or council officials the right to ask dog walkers whether they have the means to pick up. While the majority of responsible dog owners have a poo bag in every pocket, a small minority don’t, leading to some highly unpleasant environmental outcomes.
Our officers will often have a more visible presence in car parks, for example, approaching newly arrived dog walkers and asking them the question. It is an opportunity to educate as much as anything; and even those who have bags with them understand why the action is being taken and are fully supportive of the efforts to weed out those people who give dog owners a bad name.
More than just anti-social behaviour
With PSPOs designed to minimise or remove anti-social behaviour from designated areas, patrolling and enforcement delivers a number of benefits, not just limited to having nicer, safer spaces free from people spitting or urinating, playing loud music, drug taking or drinking in the street.
Take driving over verges or parking on footways. Enforcement helps keep these spaces clear and risk-free for everyone, especially those with impaired mobility or those with buggies. It can also prevent damage to paths, pipes and cables, all of which cost taxpayers’ money to repair.
Some councils also have serious issues in the vicinity of schools, with approach roads often suffering from inappropriate parking, with a heightened risk to everyone transiting that area. PSPOs give essential legal backing to officers’ efforts to keep roads safe and reduce accident risk.
What is a Community Protection Notice (CPN)?
CPNs are used against specific individuals responsible for causing harm, or for tackling particular problem premises, unlike PSPOs which create a broader ban covering a whole area. They are complementary tools and like PSPOs there is a certain threshold that must be met before a CPN can be written. Both tools also give councils and their officers the scope to educate and encourage better behaviour without the need for sanction – but also to go further when they have to, in the shape of enforcement action.
A breach of a CPN will result in a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) and subsequent breaches and FPNs will go into the prosecution’s evidence package for when a council seeks an injunction to put a stop to the offending behaviour.
A good example that Kingdom deals with regularly is the multiple occupancy home with a high turnover of occupants. We’ll typically see a pattern of fly-tipping in the back alleys or other areas where residents just leave their furniture rather than getting it disposed of properly.
A CPN can be issued to the homeowner so that they are aware of the issue and can make their tenants aware. Our patrols will monitor the location to ensure that compliance is on-going.
Working with Kingdom LAS
Kingdom LAS has extensive experience supporting local authorities across a range of environmental protections and enforcement areas. Our officers make a big impact without making waves as engaging with – and sometimes penalising – the public has to be done sensitively but authoritatively too. PSPOs and CPNs are useful tools which we can help councils leverage to create cleaner, safer, more pleasant public spaces.