Councillors to consider measures to tackle anti-social behaviour
Senior councillors are to consider proposals to help tackle anti-social behaviour, aggressive begging and street-drinking at a meeting of cabinet next week (Cabinet, 8 July, agenda item 3).
They will consider whether to introduce a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) which would prohibit a raft of antisocial activities, a breach of which could result in fines and potential prosecution.
The report makes it clear that the purpose of the PSPO would not be to target people based solely on the fact that someone is homeless or rough sleeping. The Council will continue to assist such individuals who require help and support. The purpose of the PSPO is to assist in tackling the repeat offenders whose anti-social behaviour makes the ‘Restricted Area’ a less pleasant place to be. The PSPO is intended as a last resort once it is clear that all attempts of assistance by the Council have been unsuccessful.
Following consultation earlier this year, the area originally proposed for a PSPO has also been extended to include Southchurch Hall Gardens, Hamlet Court Road and York Road. The significant majority of those who took part in the consultation were in favour of introducing a PSPO.
The activities that the PSPO proposes to prohibit include:
- Urination, defecation, spitting or littering
- Drinking alcohol or failing to surrender any containers believed to contain alcohol when an authorised officer has asked someone to stop
- Taking drugs or substances believed to be psychoactive
- Sleeping in a public place in a manner that has a detrimental impact on the quality of life of others in the locality
- Putting up tents
- Approaching passers-by to ask for subscriptions or future donations to charity (chugging)
The area that would be covered by the proposed court order includes central Southend and the seafront between Thorpe Bay and Westcliff and now also Southchurch Hall Gardens, Hamlet Court Road and York Road (see map).
Under the proposals, anyone found in breach of the PSPO could be issued a penalty of £100. If they then failed to pay the penalty within 14 days, they could be prosecuted.
Cllr Martin Terry, cabinet member for community safety & customer contact, said:
“A Public Spaces Protection Order covering the town centre, seafront and other public spaces like Hamlet Court Road could be a useful additional tool to tackle persistent anti-social behaviour taking place in some of the busiest areas of our town.
“The Council has consulted with the police and businesses in the areas covered by the proposed order and their feedback was in favour of augmenting our powers to tackle these issues, which are felt to deter shoppers and visitors to our town and make people feel unsafe.
“However, we must also be clear about what a PSPO can achieve, and whilst it adds enforcement tools to help us tackle anti-social behaviour, and allows some council staff to become authorised officers, they are not a complete solution to all the challenges we face.
“The report makes it clear that the purpose of the PSPO would not be to target people based solely on the fact that someone is homeless or rough sleeping. The Council will continue to assist such individuals who require help and support and we will continue to ensure that genuinely homeless people have access to support services that can help them turn their lives around, including providing appropriate accommodation, support with alcohol or drug problems and support with mental health problems.”
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