A report being presented to cabinet on 9 September aims to adopt a consistent and balanced approach to tackling street-based anti-social behaviour across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole. It has been drafted following feedback from a public consultation and recommends changing the existing Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) in place for Poole Town Centre and Holes Bay, to only restrict the following:
Drinking alcohol in public, whilst behaving in an anti-social manner
Possession, supply or use of intoxicating substances
Behaviour which causes harassment, alarm or distress.
In line with our agreed commitment to tackle homelessness and prevent rough sleeping, this would therefore remove the following restrictions from the existing Order for Poole Town Centre and Holes Bay, that was inherited by BCP Council from the preceding Borough of Poole:
Sitting or loitering in a public place with a receptacle used to contain monies from the public
Leaving unattended personal belongings such as bedding or bags
Causing an obstruction in shop doorways, or car park or public area such as hallways, stair wells etc
Cabinet is also asked to approve a public consultation on whether this amended PSPO should be extended across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole. A Public Spaces Protection Order for the whole area would mean the council can be clear about its powers, and that people in our area know what they can expect. Having a PSPO for the whole area would mean a consistent approach to managing general anti-social behaviour issues across our communities. This Order would then replace all existing PSPOs relating to alcohol and general anti-social behaviour across the BCP area.
Alongside the recommendations in the cabinet report, the Overview & Scrutiny Board, a committee of councillors whose role it is to scrutinise cabinet proposals and the implementation of policy, has voted to recommend that no changes should be made to the current PSPO for Poole Town Centre and Holes Bay. The Board also recommends that the council should consult on extending this existing PSPO to cover the wider BCP area.
Cabinet will decide on Wednesday 9 September whether to take forward the recommendations within the report, or the recommendations of the Overview & Scrutiny Board.
Cllr Vikki Slade, Leader of BCP Council, said:
“BCP Council is committed to reducing rough sleeping by increasing access to suitable accommodation and re-modelling a range of sustainable housing support pathways.
“The recommendation in the report to Cabinet is to remove clauses which enable the issuing of fines to people begging and leaving belongings unattended, as this is not consistent with our priority to ensure we support the most vulnerable people in our communities. The report evidences the much detailed consideration and effort that has gone in to devising effective solutions to what is a complex issue, which seeks a reduction of harmful behaviours that impact negatively on the wider community, whilst placing the needs of vulnerable people at the heart of this approach. The report recommends a PSPO across the whole area that focuses on anti-social behaviours that have been causing distress and alarm to residents, whilst ensuring that the homeless are not targeted.
“The Overview and Scrutiny Board recommends to Cabinet that no changes should be made to an existing Poole Town Centre and Holes Bay PSPO and that its existing clauses be included as part of the BCP area wide Public Spaces Protection Order consultation.
“Cabinet will be considering the recommendations both within the report and from the Overview and Scrutiny Board.”
The Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS) has been successful in tackling anti-social behaviour at some key hot-spot areas, and so in March 2020 Cabinet agreed to focus on the CSAS service as the way of reducing dealing with anti-social behaviour as it occurs.
The recent easing of lockdown measures, the re-opening of urban centres and the hospitality industry as well as the significant increases in visitor numbers to our beaches, has highlighted the clear need for the Council and the Police to have sufficient powers available in order to effectively manage anti-social behaviour, low level crime and public order issues.
We have already seen success by using patrolling CSAS Officers to engage with those who are causing anti-social behaviour, which has led to larger numbers being referred into support services.
Indeed, the support given to helping the homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic has been praised by the Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, Luke Hall MP, who visited BCP Council on Friday 28 August.
The Minister chose to visit Bournemouth after citing the excellent approach taken during lockdown in supporting some of our most vulnerable people. The council set up assessment hubs within local hotels for those sleeping rough to enable them to access health and other invaluable support services As a result of the work undertaken, significant numbers of people have successfully moved into more settled accommodation rather than return to life on the streets. He heard that although there is still some way to go to help the remaining people out of the hotels into more longer-term accommodation, great progress had been made for so many who have had their lives turned around.
The full cabinet report is available here.