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The hyper-regulation of public space: the use and abuse of Public Spaces Protection Orders in England and Wales

  • Kevin J. Brown (a1)

Abstract

Contemporary state authorities in the United Kingdom and elsewhere have increasingly sought to regulate the use of public space. This paper explores through a doctrinal and socio-legal analysis how recently introduced Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) are being used in England and Wales to enforce majoritarian sensibilities at the expense of due process and civil liberties. PSPOs were introduced in October 2014. These orders grant considerable discretion to local authorities to use the threat of criminal sanction to regulate activities in public spaces that they regard as being detrimental to the quality of life of residents. This paper provides the first comprehensive critique of how these orders are used to target minority and vulnerable groups, while curtailing fundamental freedoms. The paper includes suggestions for reforms to make the PSPO function in a manner that is more compatible with a rights-based approach.

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Copyright

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Footnotes

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With thanks to Fiona Leverick and the anonymous reviewers for their comments. All errors remain those of the author.

Footnotes

References

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7. Moeckli, D Exclusion from Public Space: A Comparative Constitutional Analysis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016).

8. Ibid, p 3.

9. Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, Ch 2.

10. For an overview of those measures, see Home Office Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014: Reform of Anti-social Behaviour Powers. Statutory Guidance for Frontline Professionals (London: Home Office, 2014).

11. The 2014 Act, s 59(2).

12. Ibid, s 59(3).

13. Ibid, s 59(4).

14. Ibid, s 67.

15. Ibid, s 68.

16. Hansard HC Deb, col 265, 2 July 2013.

17. Hughes, GCommunitarianism and law and order’ (1996) 16(49) Crit Soc Pol'y 17.

18. In a recent paper, Barker advocates an alternative mentality to authoritarian governance of public space that instead relies on a negotiated social order. She terms this ‘mediated conviviality’: Barker, above n 1. See also Bannister, J and Kearns, AThe function and foundations of urban tolerance: encountering and engaging with difference in the city’ (2013) 50(13) Urban Stud 2700.

19. Home Office, above n 10, p 47.

20. See eg The Labour Party A Quiet Life: Tough Action on Criminal Neighbours (London: Labour Party, 1995).

21. Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, ss 12–16 (repealed).

22. Crime and Disorder Act 1998, s 1 (repealed).

23. The 2014 Act, ss 1–33.

24. McDonald, SA suicidal woman, roaming pigs and a noisy trampolinist: refining the ASBO's definition of “anti-social behaviour”’ (2006) 69(2) Mod L Rev 183.

25. Ashworth, ASocial control and “anti-social behaviour”: the subversion of human rights’ (2004) 120 Law Q Rev 263 ; Brown, APAnti-social behaviour, crime control and social control’ (2004) 43(2) Howard J Crim Just 203 ; Crawford, AGoverning through anti-social behaviour: regulatory challenges to criminal justice’ (2009) 49(6) Br J Crim 810.

26. Crime and Disorder Act 1998, s 1 (repealed); The 2014 Act, ss 1–33.

27. The 2014 Act, s 59(2).

28. Barcaccia, B et al. ‘Defining quality of life: a wild-goose chase?’ (2013) 9(1) Europe's J Psychol ; available at http://ejop.psychopen.eu/article/view/484/html (accessed 17 September 2016).

29. See eg Power, M, Bullinger, M and Harper, AThe World Health Organization WHOQOL-100: tests of the universality of quality of life in 15 different cultural groups worldwide’ (1999) 18(5) Health Psychol 495 ; Ferriss, ALThe quality of life concept in sociology’ (2004) 35(3) Am Sociol 37 ; Nussbaum, M and Sen, A (eds) The Quality of Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993).

30. Eurostat Quality of Life: Facts and Views (Luxembourg: European Commission, 2015).

31. Power et al., above n 29.

32. Office for National Statistics Measuring National Well-Being: Life in the UK: 2016 (London: ONS, 2016)

33. Barcaccia et al., above n 28.

34. Baker, DJA critical evaluation of the historical and contemporary justifications for criminalizing begging’ (2009) 73 J Crim L 212.

35. The 2014 Act, s 59(3).

36. Ibid, s 72(1).

37. Associated Provincial Picture Houses Ltd v Wednesbury Corporation [1948] 1 KB 223; Council of Civil Service Unions v Minister for the Civil Service [1983] UKHL 6.

38. The Sunday Times v The United Kingdom (1979) 2 EHRR 245.

39. R (on the application of Daly) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2001] 3 All ER 433.

40. Malone v The United Kingdom (1984) 7 EHRR 14.

41. Hansard HL Deb, col 1221, 25 November 2013.

42. Crime and Disorder Act 1998, s 1(1)(b).

43. Ashworth, A Principles of Criminal Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 6th edn, 2009) ch 2.

44. Husak, D Overcriminalisation: The Limits of the Criminal Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008) pp 95101.

45. An alternative perspective is to view the PSPO as promoting under-criminalisation in the sense that it is an administrative measure that facilitates the avoidance of traditional procedural protections associated with the criminal law. For a discussion of this perspective in relation to other preventive orders, see L Zedner and A Ashworth ‘Preventative orders: a problem of undercriminalisation’ in RA Duff et al. (eds) The Boundaries of Criminal Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press) p 59.

46. Ashworth, above n 43, pp 31–32.

47. Ibid, pp 33–34; Husak, above n 44, ch 3.

48. The 2014 Act, s 59(4).

49. Ibid, s 59(4).

50. See eg Salford City Council, PSPO 1 of 2015; available at https://www.salford.gov.uk/media/388279/salford-quays-public-spaces-protection-order.pdf (accessed 17 September 2016).

51. The 2014 Act, s 74(1).

52. The Prevention of Crime Act 1953, s 1; Criminal Justice Act 1988, s 139; Criminal Justice Act 1967, s 91; Road Traffic Act 1930, s 7; Road Traffic Act 1988, s 5.

53. Home Office, above n 10, p 48.

54. Harriot v DPP [2005] EWHC 965; R v Leroy Roberts [2003] EWCA Crim 2753; DPP v Greenwood [1997] EWHC 129; Filmer v DPP [2006] EWHC 3450.

55. The 2014 Act, s 59.

56. See eg Chester City Public Spaces Protection Order 2016; available at http://www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/your_council/public_notices/public_spaces_protection_order.aspx (accessed 17 September 2016).

57. Home Office, above n 10.

58. Hansard HL Deb, col 1230, 25 November 2013.

59. Hansard Fourth Marshalled List Of Amendments To Be Moved In Committee: House of Lords. Amendment 39.

60. Hansard, above n 58.

61. J Appleton PSPOs: A Busybodies’ Charter (2016, The Manifesto Club); available at http://manifestoclub.info/psposreport/ (accessed 17 September 2016).

62. Ibid.

63. The 2014 Act, s 71.

64. Ibid, s 71(3).

65. Ibid, s 71(6).

66. Ibid, ss 71(4), 71(5).

67. Anti-social Behaviour (Designation of the City of London Corporation) Order 2015/858.

68. The 2014 Act, s 72.

69. Ibid, s 72(4).

70. Jones, T and Newburn, T Widening Access: Improving Police Relations with Hard To Reach Groups (London: Home Office, 2001).

71. Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (Publication of Public Spaces Protection Orders) Regulations 2014/2591.

72. The 2014 Act, s 59(4).

73. Ibid, s 59(5).

74. Appleton, above n 61.

75. The 2014 Act, s 59(6).

76. Gateford Public Spaces Protection Order 2015.

77. Crawford, ADispersal powers and the symbolic role of anti-social behaviour legislation’ (2008) 71(5) Mod L Rev 753776.

78. Ibid, at 766.

79. See Hayes Town Centre PSPO, Eastcote PSPO, Yeading PSPO and Pinkwell PSPO. Copies are available at https://www.hillingdon.gov.uk/pspo (accessed 17 September 2016).

80. See eg Bowling, B and Phillips, CDisproportionate and discriminatory: reviewing the evidence on police stop and search’ (2007) 70(6) Mod L Rev 936 ; de Maillard, J et al. ‘Different styles of policing: discretionary power in street controls by the public police in France and Germany’ (2016) Policing & Soc'y ; Burch, TSkin color and the criminal justice system: beyond black–white disparities in sentencing’ (2015) 12(3) J Empirical Legal Stud 395.

81. C Johnstone ‘After the Asbo: extending control over young people's use of public space in England and Wales’ (2016) 36(4) Crit Soc Pol'y 716.

82. Crawford, ACriminalizing sociability through anti-social behaviour legislation: dispersal powers, young people and the police’ (2009) 9(1) Youth Just 5; Johnstone, above n 81.

83. S Sandhu ‘Street skaters may find their latest moves land them in court – but they are fighting back’ The Independent 1 August 2015; available at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/street-skaters-may-find-their-latest-moves-land-them-in-court-but-they-are-fighting-back-10432783.html (accessed 17 September 2016).

84. Salford City Council (Salford Quays) Public Spaces Protection Order 1 of 2015.

85. Roberts, JMThe enigma of free speech: Speakers' Corner, the geography of governance and a crisis of rationality’ (2000) 9(2) Social & Legal Stud 271.

86. Birmingham City Council ‘Public Spaces Protection Order consultation: noise from buskers, street entertainers and street speakers in the city centre’ (Birmingham: Birmingham City Council, 2015); available at https://www.birminghambeheard.org.uk/place/the-introduction-of-public-spaces-protection-order/supporting_documents/PSPO%20Appendices%205and6.pdf (accessed 17 September 2016).

87. N Elkes ‘Birmingham busker ban proposals are scrapped’ Birmingham Post 17 September 2015; available at http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/news/regional-affairs/birmingham-busker-ban-proposals-scrapped-10072778 (accessed 17 September 2016).

88. Public Spaces Protection Order (Shepway District Council) 2015 No 1.

89. Ibid.

90. Baker, n 34.

91. K Beckett and S Herbert Banished: The New Social Control in Urban America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010).

92. Newcastle City Council ‘Newcastle upon Tyne: Public Spaces Protection Order: consultation document’ (Newcastle upon Tyne: Newcastle City Council, 2016); available at https://letstalknewcastle.co.uk/files/2016_PSPO_consultation.pdf (accessed 17 September 2016).

93. Ibid.

94. Rodger, JJ Criminalising Social Policy: Anti-social Behaviour and Welfare in a De-Civilised Society (Cullompton: Willan, 2008).

95. Newcastle City Council ‘Cracking down on anti-social behaviour’; available at https://www.newcastle.gov.uk/news-story/cracking-down-anti-social-behaviour (accessed 17 September 2016).

96. Ibid.

97. A Praharaj ‘City protest over Newcastle City Council's proposed ‘begging ban’’ 7 December 2016; available at http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/city-protest-over-newcastle-city-12284045 (accessed 25 May 2017).

98. The 2014 Act, s 60.

99. Ibid, s 60(4).

100. Ibid, s 60(2).

101. Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill Explanatory Notes, para 146.

102. The 2014 Act, s 72.

103. Ibid, s 60(3).

104. Ibid, s 72.

105. Ibid, s 61.

106. Ibid.

107. Ibid, s 72.

108. Ibid.

109. Ibid, ss 61(5), 61(6).

110. Ibid, s 70.

111. Local Government Act 1972, s 235(3).

112. The following applies in England only: The Byelaws (Alternative Procedure) (England) Regulations 2016.

113. Ibid.

114. Ibid, Reg 5.

115. Ibid, Reg 5(2)(b).

116. Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill Explanatory Notes, para 155(b).

117. Conservative Party The Conservative Party Manifesto 2015 (London: Conservative Party, 2015).

118. The Byelaws (Alternative Procedure) (England) Regulations 2016, Reg 8(2).

119. Ibid, Reg 8.

120. Ibid, Reg 8(3).

121. Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill Explanatory Notes, para 155(c).

122. Local Government Act 1972, s 237.

123. The 2014 Act, s 67.

124. Ibid, s 68.

125. Ibid.

126. Jirehouse Capital v Beller [2008] EWCA Civ 908; Windsor v Crown Prosecution Service [2011] EWCA Crim 143.

127. The 2014 Act, s 68(2).

128. Sanders, A, Young, R and Burton, M Criminal Justice (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010) pp 408409 ; Young, R Ethnic profiling and summary justice: An ominous silence? In Sveinsson, K (ed), Ethnic Profiling: The Use of ‘Race’ in UK Law Enforcement (London: Runnymede Trust, 2010) pp 4349 ; Warner, KEquality before the law and equal impact of sanctions: doing justice to differences in wealth and employment status’ in Zedner, L and Roberts, JV (eds), Principles and Values in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice: Essays in Honour of Andrew Ashworth (Oxford: Oxford University Press) pp 225243.

129. The 2014 Act, ss 63(1), (2)(a).

130. Ibid, s 63(2)(b).

131. Ibid, s 63(3).

132. Ibid, s 68.

133. The Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, ss 12–16 (repealed).

134. Thank you to one of the anonymous reviewers for identifying this point.

135. Braithwaite, J Restorative Justice and Responsive Regulation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002); Crawford, above n 25.

136. The 2014 Act, s 66(1).

137. Ibid.

138. Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 Pt I; House of Commons Justice Committee Impact of Changes to Civil Legal Aid under Part 1 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 HC311, 2015.

139. The 2014 Act, s 66(4).

140. Ibid, s 66(2)(a).

141. Ibid, s 66(5).

142. Ibid, s 66(2)(b).

143. Ibid, s 66(5).

144. Ibid, s 67(3).

145. J Abrahams ‘What can't you do with a criminal record?’ Prospect Magazine 22 May 2013; available at http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/features/criminal-record-chris-huhne-vicky-pryce-adam-johnson (accessed 17 September 2016).

146. Lords amendment 39 ‘Explanatory notes. Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill: explanatory notes on Lords amendments’; available at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2013-2014/0163/en/14163en.htm (accessed 17 September 2016).

147. Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill: Written Evidence (London: HMSO, 2013).

148. Liberty ‘Public Spaces Protection Orders’; available at https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/campaigning/public-space-protection-orders-0 (accessed 17 September 2016).

149. The Manifesto Club ‘Public Spaces Protection Orders’; available at http://manifestoclub.info/category/pspos/ (accessed 17 September 2016).

150. The Keep the Streets Alive Campaign ‘Our mission’; available at http://keepstreetslive.com (accessed 17 September 2016).

151. For examples, see Liberty, above n 118; The Keep the Streets Alive Campaign, above n 120.

152. The Manifesto Club ‘#ProtestPSPO – 6 and 7 August’; available at http://manifestoclub.info/protestpspo-6-and-7-august/ (accessed 17 September 2016).

153. The Manifesto Club ‘Weekend of action 06–07/08/16’; available at http://manifestoclub.com/protestpspo.html (accessed 17 September 2016).

154. Cheshire West and Chester Council ‘Proposed draft of the PSPO’; available at http://www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/your_council/consultations_and_petitions/council_consultations/proposed_public_space_protecti.aspx (accessed 17 September 2016).

155. Cheshire West and Chester Council ‘Proposals for a Public Spaces Protection Order for the city of Chester: background information’ (Chester: Cheshire West and Chester Council, 2015) p 3.

156. D Holmes ‘Chester busking proposals could turn council into “civic Simon Cowells” says campaigner’ The Chester Chronicle 13 July 2015; available at http://www.chesterchronicle.co.uk/news/chester-cheshire-news/chester-busking-proposals-could-turn-9643600 (accessed 17 September 2016).

157. D Holmes ‘Comedian Mark Thomas leads Chester PSPO protest “lying-down” in city centre’ The Chester Chronicle 17 September 2015; available at http://www.chesterchronicle.co.uk/news/chester-cheshire-news/comedian-mark-thomas-leads-chester-10077523 (accessed 17 September 2016).

158. Ibid.

159. Holmes, above n 157.

160. A Charlesworth ‘Rough sleeping ban scrapped in Chester’ Big Issue North 17 March 2016; available at http://www.bigissuenorth.com/2016/03/homeless-ban-scrapped-in-chester/17565 (accessed 17 September 2016).

161. ‘Optimism over potential U-turn over PSPO plans in Chester’ Chester Standard 18 November 2015; available at http://www.chesterstandard.co.uk/news/155090/optimism-over-potential-u-turn-over-pspo-plans-in-chester.aspx (accessed 17 September 2016).

162. Charlesworth, above n 160.

163. S Morris ‘Plan to criminalise rough sleeping in Newport city centre dropped’ The Guardian 24 November 2015; available at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/nov/24/ban-homeless-people-sleeping-newport-proposal-droppde (accessed 17 September 2016).

164. ‘Norwich city centre skateboard ban plan ditched’ BBC Online 26 November 2014; available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-norfolk-30210193 (accessed 17 September 2016).

165. H Summerville ‘“Beggar traps” being placed across Oxford in protest against council’ The Oxford Mail 12 October 2015; available at http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/13841182. Beggar_Traps__being_placed_across_Oxford_in_protest_against_council/ (accessed 17 September 2016).

166. Ibid.

167. Oxford City Council ‘City centre Public Spaces Protection Order report for City Executive Board’ (Oxford: Oxford City Council, 2015); available at http://mycouncil.oxford.gov.uk/documents/s23804/Report_City%20Centre%20PSPO.pdf (accessed 17 September 2016).

168. M McKenna ‘Oxford City Council amends draft Public Spaces Prevention Order (PSPO) following concerns from homelessness organisations’ Housing Excellence 20 May 2015; available at http://www.housingexcellence.co.uk/news/oxford-city-council-amends-draft-public-spaces-prevention-order-pspo-following-concerns (accessed 17 September 2016).

169. Oxford City Council ‘Public Spaces Protection Order’; available at https://www.oxford.gov.uk/info/20101/community_safety/274/public_spaces_protection_orders (accessed 17 September 2016).

170. Public Spaces Protection Order (Shepway District Council) 2015 No 1.

* With thanks to Fiona Leverick and the anonymous reviewers for their comments. All errors remain those of the author.

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