Exeter City Council | Public Spaces Protection Order

The Scrutiny Committee: Community meeting held on 08 September considered a report on outline proposals for the implementation of a Public Spaces Protection Order.

Also included with the report was:
Appendix II – Prohibitions and actions contained in Public Spaces Protection Order 

The minutes of this meeting note:

The Assistant Director Environment presented the report advising Members on the process and consideration towards the implementation of a Public Spaces Protection Order in the City Centre area of Exeter. The report sought agreement to enter into consultation with the public and relevant stakeholders on the draft proposals for a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) and for a report to be brought back to this Committee, Executive and Council at the end of this year, with recommendations as to the implementation, or otherwise, of a Public Spaces Protection Order.

The justification for the identified area was based on intelligence from the Devon and Cornwall Police and the Council’s Control Room, together with views canvassed from the public. It was considered that, within the City Centre, the prevalence of anti-social behaviour was relatively high in comparison with other parts of the city, and at a level where the mechanisms offered by the proposed PSPO would enable, either a control method, where one does not exist at present or an alternative control measure more easily used by agencies and one that does not necessarily criminalise a perpetrator in breach of the PSPO.

He explained that the proposed boundaries of the PSPO detailed in the report may change in light of representations, for example, some Members had already asked for the inclusion of Belmont Park and the open space in Bonhay Road. He outlined the following procedures and actions contained within the proposed PSPO and gave examples of what they sought to control and what they did not intend to intervene over:-

  • surrender of any intoxicants (alcohol, legal highs and other stimulants);
  • urinating in the street;
  • begging;
  • removing encampments, bedding and associated paraphernalia in public spaces; and
  • dispersing groups or individuals causing anti-social behaviour.

He advised that guidance would be developed alongside the PSPO to inform agencies and the public and responded as follows to Members’ queries:-

  • because of the draconian nature of the new powers there was a need for clear justification to be shown when introducing an Order, therefore it was not appropriate for the whole of the City to be covered, as there were many parts where such anti-social behaviour problems did not exist to the same extent. It’s application should be surgical in nature rather than the wholesale, but this did not mean that there were not other specific areas of the City where a PSPO would be justified in the future;
  • Home Office guidance for the implementation of a  PSPO identified the requirement for public consultation;
  • In terms of exercising the tools of the PSPO, the Police and Police Community Support Officer would be the main agents of intervention. The expectation was that interventions/incidents would be recorded by the Police, together with incidents recorded by the City Council’s CCTV Control Room. Incidents of anti social behaviour outside the PSPO area would be reviewed to identify potential dispersal;
  • the University would be one of the consultees;
  • close liaison with Customer Access Housing Needs would continue because of the relationship between anti social behaviour and rough sleeping, begging etc. A new outreach provider ‘Julian House’, was starting in October to engage rough sleepers and assist them to access support and accommodation services. It was recognised that a minority were difficult to engage and often resisted offers of accommodation. It was noted that encouraging their engagement was the adopted approach but that a line was drawn when behaviour became intolerable. It would be at this point that enforcement action would be used. It was also highlighted that a recent review had shown only around 20% of those begging were homeless, and therefore the issue needed to be addressed in a wider arena than the outreach team; and
  • it would not be practicable to store confiscated encampment paraphernalia for potential reclaiming by rough sleepers because of difficulties in storage, identification with owner, and administration of such a facility.

Scrutiny Committee Community noted and supported the report and asked Executive to:-

(1)        agree the contents of the draft Public Space Protection Orders, in the area defined by the map in the report (Appendix I), together with the prohibitions and actions contained in Appendix II of the report;

(2)        instruct officers to seek the views of the public and other stakeholders through public consultation, with a view to reporting back to Scrutiny Committee – Community, Executive and Council at the end of 2015; and

(3)        recommendations to be made in that report on the adoption or otherwise of a  Public Spaces Protection Order for approval by Council.

The matter was next considered at a meeting of the Exective held on 15 September and a revised report was considered. The report contained some amended appendices:
Appendix I – Map of area being considered for a Public Spaces Protection Order 
Appendix II – Prohibitions and requirements contained in Public Spaces Protection Order 
Appendix III – Evidence gathered by the Council itself, and from other associated agencies including the Police, recording crime and ASB statistics for the area 

The minutes of this meetingnote:

The report of the Assistant Director Environment was submitted advising Members on the process and consideration to the implementation of a Public Spaces Protection Order in the City Centre area of Exeter. The report sought agreement to enter into consultation with the public and relevant stakeholders on the draft proposals for a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) with the findings to be brought back at the end of this year, with recommendations as to the implementation, or otherwise, of a Public Spaces Protection Order.

Members were circulated with a revised appendix two and an updated plan outlining the areas to be consulted on for a proposed PSPO. The additional areas proposed to be consulted as a result of feedback from Members and officers were Belmont Park, the river side and open space from the Quay and along Bonhay Road, Black AllerIsland, St Thomas Church and Prospect Place.

In response to Members, the Assistant Director Environment clarified that because of the draconian nature of the new powers there was a need for clear justification to be shown when introducing an Order. Its application should not be wholesale although this did not mean that other specific areas of the City could not be considered for a PSPO were it justified in the future. The PSPO would not apply to permitted areas outside of licensed premises.

Members supported the consultation with the public and relevant stakeholders on the draft proposals for a PSPO.

Scrutiny Committee – Community considered the report at its meeting on 8 September 2015 and its comments were reported.

RESOLVED that:-

(1)          the content of the draft Public Space Protection Orders, in the area defined by the circulated map and to also include Belmont Park, the river side and open space from the Quay and along Bonhay Road, Black Aller Island, St Thomas Church and Prospect Place, with the prohibitions and actions (contained in the circulated Appendix II), be approved;

(2)          the views of the public and other stakeholders be sought through public consultation, and the findings be brought back to Scrutiny Committee – Community, Executive and Council at the end of 2015; and

(3)          as a result of the public consultation recommendations on the adoption or otherwise of a Public Spaces Protection Order be submitted to Council for approval.

The Full Council ratified this approach at it’s meeting on 20 October 2015.

The minutes of this meeting record:

In respect of Minute 94 (Proposals for the Implementation of a Public Spaces Protection Order) and in response to a Member, the Leader stated the order was out for consultation. The Portfolio Holder for Health and Place clarified that evidence was needed to justify introducing this Order.

Although the initial plan was to have the consultation so that a report could be presented to Full Council before the end of 2015, the tight schedule meant that this timetable wasn’t feasible.

So, the public consultation was launched actually on 11 November 2015 and will run to 22 January 2016. The views made during the consultation  will be considered through the committee cycle before any decision is made on the proposed Order by Full Council in February 2016.

To complete the PSPO questionnaire online, follow the link below:

Online questionnaire – Proposed Prohibitions and Actions contained in Public Spaces Protection Order for Exeter City Centre

To download a .pdf copy of the questionnaire, follow the link below
PSPO Proposed Restrictions Questionnaire [86kb]

You may also view the documents and obtain a feedback form by visiting the Civic Centre, Paris Street, Exeter, EX1 1JN  during office hours.

The following documents contain more information on the proposal:

PSPO Frequently Asked Questions [170kb]

PSPO Proposed Restrictions and Actions [55kb]

PSPO Map of Proposed Area [1Mb]

PSPO Draft Equality Impact Assessment document [161kb]

 

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