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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