Following a decision made by the Portfolio Holder for Community Safety, Councillor Bobbie Dove, a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) will be in place from this Thursday (13 October) around the British Pregnancy Advice Service clinic on Ophir Road, Bournemouth.
Councillor Dove said:
“We became aware of behaviours having a detrimental impact at this location in November 2021. Teams from BCP Council, in partnership with Dorset Police, have since worked extremely hard over the past nine months to understand the difficulties and experiences of people either visiting or working at the clinic. We tried to find a negotiated position which could be agreed upon by all the parties involved, but this was unsuccessful.
“We then launched a two-month consultation on options for the area and the strength of support for the introduction of a PSPO was clear from the number of responses we received. I looked very carefully at all the views received during the consultation and listened closely to the experiences of those living nearby.
“Whilst we acknowledge the right of anyone to conduct a peaceful protest, we had to balance this against the distress caused or likely to be caused, and the detrimental impact of behaviours experienced by those accessing medical services or doing their jobs.
“The conclusion I arrived at is a balanced and proportionate decision that will benefit the clinic’s users, its staff and the residents living on roads that surround the clinic. I thank everyone who either took part in the consultation, or wrote to me, for their time and views on this very difficult and sensitive matter.
“I would also like to thank our BCP ASB team for their continued hard work and attention to this over the past nine months”.
The PSPO will come into effect from Thursday 13 October 2022 in the area directly surrounding the clinic. It will be in operation Monday to Friday, between the hours of 7am – 7pm, to cover the opening times of the clinic. Activities prohibited with the PSPO area include (but are not restricted to) protesting abortion services, handing out leaflets, intimidating visitors to the clinic or its staff, photographing or recording the clinic’s users or holding vigils.
Anyone failing to comply could incur a fixed penalty notice of £100 or be liable for conviction at a Magistrates Court.
Neighbourhood Inspector Joe Wheable, of Bournemouth Police, said: “Dorset Police recognises the rights of people to conduct peaceful protests, however we also recognise that everyone has the right to access medical services without being subject to distress.
“We have been supporting the local authority to utilise the legal powers available to prevent and reduce behaviours which have had or are likely to have a detrimental impact on those in the locality through the securing of a Public Space Protection Order.
“We will continue to work with our local partners and will take appropriate action in response to any reported breaches of the order.”
The public consultation on whether a PSPO should be introduced presented three different options for those that agreed a safe zone around the clinic should be implemented. There was also a ‘no change’ option.
There were 2,241 responses to the consultation. 75% of respondents supported the principle of a PSPO being implemented, while 24% did not support it.
The full Portfolio Holder decision is available to view here: democracy.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/ieDecisionDetails.aspx?ID=563
More information on the PSPO can be found here: bcpcouncil.gov.uk/OphirRoadPSPO