Red-faced officers at Peterborough City Council have had to put on hold a clampdown on illegal cycling in Bridge Street, despite promises of a ‘zero tolerance’ approach.
Council leader Councillor John Holdich had promised that council staff would ticket all cyclists illegally pedalling on Bridge Street when staff received fining powers for the first time.
But despite those powers coming into force on Monday (October 17), the council has discovered it is still not allowed to hand out fixed penalty notices because Bridge Street cycling is classed as a road traffic offence, which only the police can enforce.
The council is now in the process of getting that rule changed but admits it has no timeframe for when that will happen.
A council spokesman said: “Initially, only warranted police officers within the PES [Prevention and Enforcement Service] will have the power to fine cyclists on Bridge Street and will work alongside council officers.
“This is because cycling on Bridge Street is currently classified as a road traffic offence. The process is well underway to change this order to allow any PES officer to enforce the cycling ban on Bridge Street.”
The delay in clamping down on illegal cycling in Bridge Street will be a disappointment to Cllr Holdich who has always made it a priority of his leadership.
The PES combines council, police, fire service and prison staff in one service.
And starting from Monday, council staff in the PES will have new Community Safety Accreditation Scheme powers which give them the ability to take action against a wider range of community issues. These include littering, begging and cycling on pavements.
Council officers also retain existing powers available to them, including parking and housing enforcement.
The PES is re-launching on Monday and will be made up of total of 112 officers including 16 police constables, 30 police community support officers and 30 council prevention and enforcement officers.
Other members include CCTV operators, crime reduction and fire service community safety officers as well as senior officers from all organisations to manage the service.
The service will be structured into three localities covering the whole city council area. Each of the three areas will have a service manager, senior officers and officers from across the different organisations, all focussed on addressing and preventing problems throughout the city’s communities.
The localities are:
. Eastern (all city centre / Dogsthorpe / Welland / Millfield)
. Northern (including Westwood / West town / Bretton / Paston / Werrington / North Rural)
. Southern (including Ortons / Staground / Fletton / Woodston / Hamptons)
On Monday, following the launch, officers will be taking part in the following activities:
. City centre patrols - targeting street drinking, anti-social behaviour, aggressive begging and cycling on pavements
. Officers supporting Operation Sceptre - the police’s city-wide knife amnesty
. Patrols in Woodston to target drug dealing, illegal parking, street drinking, anti-social behaviour and engaging with the public
. Visits to houses in multiple occupancy across the city to check on the safety of residents and to check for signs of over-crowding.
Cllr Holdich said: “This new service, which extends the powers of the council’s enforcement officers, will tackle a number of issues that people contact me about regularly.
“I’ve listened to their concerns and believe that our new approach will play a part in tackling concerns like fly-tipping and littering as well as working to prevent issues such as drug dealing and child sexual exploitation.
“The Prevention and Enforcement Service covers the whole of the city and our rural areas, however the city centre will remain a key area of focus to ensure we help make the experience for everybody that uses it an enjoyable and trouble-free one.”
Chief Inspector Rob Hill, joint head of the SaferPeterborough Prevention and Enforcement Service, said: “The PES will be evidence led and our team will use data to highlight activities that need to be addressed.
“Staff will be directed on a daily basis to deal with calls received from the public alongside work on crime prevention initiatives, but when there is an identified need the full team can come together and work wherever directed across the city.
“For example – if we are suffering a spate of arson attacks in a particular area the whole team could be used to increase patrols in that community. This gives us the opportunity to mobilise large numbers at short notice to deal with the issues that really impact on our residents.”
Station Commander Karl Bowden, joint head of the SaferPeterborough Prevention and Enforcement Service, said: “As the name of the service suggests there will be a major focus on prevention around issues such as fly-tipping and accidental fires.
“The best way of solving these issues in the community is to prevent it from happening in the first place and a key role of the new service will be to get out into our communities and engage with residents.”
The public can report issues and concerns to the Prevention and Enforcement Service via the MyPeterborough App or they can call 101 or 01733 747474. 999 should only be used in an emergency.
Police officers who are part of the PES will retain their full powers. They are the only members of the team who will have the power of arrest.
Powers available to council PES officers:
. Enforce and issue fixed penalty notices:
. For cycling on footpath
. For dog fouling
. For graffiti and flyposting
. For littering
. In relation to offences against certain by-law
. For wasting police time, giving a false report
. For using public electronic communications network to cause annoyance or needless anxiety to another person
. For knowingly giving or causing to be given a false alarm of fire to a person acting on behalf of a fire and rescue authority
. For any behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress
. For throwing fireworks
. For selling or attempting to sell alcohol to a person who is drunk
. For buying or attempting to buy alcohol for consumption on relevant premises on behalf of a person under 18
. For delivery of or allowing delivery of alcohol to a person under 18
. Take name and address if they have reason to believe a relevant offence has been committed
. Deal with begging and take the name and address of those who have committed this offence
. Take the name and address of a person who is believed to have been acting in an anti-social manner
. Take the name and address of a person believed to have caused offences under the Road Traffic Act
. Require persons drinking in designated places or under the age of 18 to surrender alcohol
. Seize tobacco products or cigarettes from any person aged under 16
. Remove abandoned vehicles
. Stop a cyclist if it is believed they have committed the offence of riding on a footway
. Photograph persons away from a police station if a penalty notice has been issued
An ongoing training programme has been rolled out to ensure all staff are equipped to use the new powers deal with new challenges. Staff from mixed services will work in pairs for a period of time to allow for skills transfer and for a mentoring period.
For example, police officers could be working alongside council staff to help them apply the accredited powers and resolve issues.