Powers to fine anti-social behaviour in Peterborough city centre set to be extended

Powers to fine Bridge Street cyclists and people committing anti-social behaviour in Peterborough city centre are set to be extended for another three years.

Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 3:59 pm

Peterborough City Council introduced a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) in the city centre in April 2017, allowing its enforcement officers to hand out £80 fines for people committing a series of offences.

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Cyclists on Bridge Street

While enforcing the cycling ban was the most noticeable aspect of the PSPO, the council has highlighted big reductions in the number of people littering (44 per cent from 2017/18 to 2018/19) and spitting (62 per cent in the same time period) as examples of the clampdown working.

Further offences which can be punished include drinking in public and begging, although for the latter the council said fines will only apply to people who the authority is certain already have accommodation and are not sleeping rough.

Council leader Cllr John Holdich championed the introduction of the PSPO and called for “zero tolerance” on people breaching the 9am to 6pm Bridge Street cycling ban.

He said: “The introduction of the city centre PSPO has made a real difference in keeping our city centre safe and looking better than ever.

“Three years ago shoppers were being deterred from going down Bridge Street as they feared being hit by a speeding cyclist. This was a big worry, particularly for those who were elderly, disabled or with young children.

“At the same time others were concerned with the level of rubbish which was being dropped onto our streets and other anti-social behaviour that was happening on a regular basis. These concerns are now largely reduced. I would encourage all residents to take part in the survey and have their say.”

A consultation has now been launched to extend the PSPO for another three years from April.

This would include three changes:

. Consumption of alcohol - amending the condition to include a clause that means those dispersed are not allowed to return to the PSPO area within six hours, unless for education, health or employment purposes.

. Busking - this condition is being recommended for removal as the number of buskers within the city remains low and there has been no enforcement for breaches of the Busking Code for the duration of the original order.

. Anti-social behaviour - to make it an offence for individuals to cause harassment, alarm or distress by committing anti-social behaviour. Examples include use of offensive or abusive language and acting in an aggressive manner. It is also proposed that the existing condition which enables authorised officers to disperse individuals causing harassment, alarm and distress is amended to prevent those dispersed from returning to the PSPO area within six hours - unless for education, health or employment purposes.

Anyone who wants to take part in the consultation should log onto the ‘consultations’ page at www.peterborough.gov.uk or request a paper copy of the consultation from the Town Hall in Bridge Street.

The PSPOs have been enforced by officers from the council and, more controversially, private firm Kingdom.

There were claims Kingdom was targeting the most minor offenders, while last April the firm was criticised after one of its officers allegedly threatened to fine children protesting about climate change in the city centre as they were supposedly making too much noise.

A Kingdom spokesman said there had been no intention to carry out the threat.

However, Kingdom staff are no longer operating in the city after having their contract ended.

Further PSPOs are currently running in an area covering Millfield, New England, Gladstone, Eastfield, Lower Bridge Street and the Embankment, as well as in Woodston.