Protection order could be renewed to help deal with anti-social behaviour in Wellingborough town centre

A consultation has shown that incidents of anti-social behaviour in the town centre are 'persistent'

Wednesday, 4th November 2020, 6:00 am

Councillors are being asked to renew and amend the Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) in Wellingborough town centre to provide ongoing powers to deal with anti-social behaviour (ASB).

The current PSPO requires renewal before March 1, 2021, and approval is being sought to bring the renewed PSPO into force this December.

An extensive consultation process ran from September 23 to October 21 with 96 per cent of respondents supporting continuation of the existing powers which prohibit urination and defection in a public place and the failure to comply with a request to cease drinking or surrendering alcohol in a controlled drinking zone.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

100 per cent of respondents supported continuation of the existing power to prohibit behaviour reasonably perceived to be intimidating and/or aggressive and 87 per cent supported the continuation of existing powers in relation to begging.

As part of the consultation, respondents could provide views on other anti-social behaviours which are regularly reported to the local authority for proposed inclusion in the PSPO.

70 per cent of respondents saw urinating and defecating as a problem, 52 per cent fly posting, 95 per cent littering, 70 per cent graffiti, 78 per cent unauthorised camping on public land, 78 per cent motor cycle nuisance and 82 per cent spitting.

All respondents supported the use of a PSPO to control these behaviours.

The proposed area for the PSPO

Other problem behaviours in the town centre cited by people were considered to be sleeping or residing in premises/doorways during daytime hours, drug dealing, cycling on pavements and revving of cars and motorbikes.

The current PSPO was introduced in March 2018 and has been deemed successful in helping deal with anti-social behaviour in the town centre.

A report prepared for councillors ahead of next week's meeting says: "The feedback and comments from the consultation shows residents’ disquiet at experiencing ASB or believing themselves to be at risk.

"This evidence shows that incidents of ASB in the town centre are persistent, and are having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those concerned.

"Littering, graffiti and fly posting were significant problems listed.

"Littering and graffiti can, however, still be addressed through Sections 87/88 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and fly posting through the Town and Country (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007, therefore it is not proposed to introduce these behaviours into the town centre PSPO.

"Although there was support for the introduction of spitting within the town centre PSPO, the evidence to support that this anti-social behaviour is a persistent and continuing problem may not be strong enough at this time to meet the legal criteria for inclusion within the PSPO.

"There was support for the introduction of prohibitions pertaining to unauthorised camping on public land and this was highlighted by respondents as a significant problem, however, Home Office guidance states that this provision should not be used to target people based solely on the fact that someone is homeless or rough sleeping, as this in itself is unlikely to mean that such behaviour is having an unreasonably detrimental effect on the community’s quality of life which justifies the restrictions imposed.

"It could be seen to be a breach of right protected by article 8 of the convention and open to challenges.

"As a result it is not proposed to introduce this behaviour into the town centre PSPO.

"There was support from the consultation for the introduction of prohibitions pertaining to motor cycle nuisance.

"Northants Police receive a significant number of complaints in relation to motor vehicle nuisance.

"There is seasonal variation and this is an ongoing issue.

"Our community safety team also receives regular complaints about this activity.

"In July 2020, a vehicle nuisance OSARA was produced by Northants Police with emphasis on Croyland Park and Queensway.

"As part of the OSARA recommendations for some target hardening interventions to prevent access or make it more obstructive for use by mopeds etc are proposed.

"The implementation of these elements into a PSPO will in addition provide a low level intervention and preventative measure."

It is proposed to extend the PSPO to include London Road to the Embankment roundabout, to include the two retail parks alongside, Doddington Road cemetery and Dale End, and the railway station forecourt (to include the remainder of Midland Road).

It is intended that fixed penalty notices will continue to be issued for failure to comply with the PSPO with the fine set at £100.

Councillors are being asked to resolve that the PSPO is made to provide additional powers to tackle anti-social behaviour in the town.

Members of the council's services committee will consider it at their virtual meeting on November 10.

Message from the editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

In order for us to continue to provide trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the highest standards in the world. The dramatic events of 2020 are having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers and consequently the advertising that we receive.

We are now more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news by buying a copy of our newspaper.

Thank you