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Public backs powers to tackle town centre anti-social behaviour

New enforcement powers have been agreed by Chesterfield Borough Council to tackle problems of anti-social behaviour and drinking in the town centre.

The council’s cabinet has agreed to introduce Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) to cover Chesterfield’s town centre after the move received widespread support in a public consultation.

Before the orders take effect an agreement will be drawn up between the police and council enforcement officers about the processes needed to enforce the orders. To support this Chesterfield Borough Council will recruit two more enforcement officers.

The new rules will:

  • Enable the police or other authorised enforcement officers to make anyone found drinking alcohol on the streets within the town centre hand over open or unopened alcohol tins or bottles.
  • Ban any activity or behaviour which causes nuisance, alarm, harassment or distress to another person
  • Ban loitering around cash machines, shopping centre entrances, shop entrances or car park ticket and payment machines to beg for money
  • Ban urinating or defecating anywhere that is not in a public toilet
  • Ban putting up or using a tent or other temporary structure without the landowner’s permission
  • Ban leaving any personal belongings unattended

Anyone breaching the order will either face prosecution or be given a £100 fixed penalty notice. Where a fixed penalty notice is issued anyone not paying it could still face prosecution. Fines would not be chosen as an option in situations where the person would be unable to pay.

Councillor Chris Ludlow, Chesterfield Borough Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “These new orders are designed to give the law-abiding majority the right to use and enjoy public spaces safe from anti-social behaviour.

“The public consultation has confirmed that residents and businesses in Chesterfield want to see action about this issue and that they support the introduction of these orders.

“They also want the people concerned to get treatment and support to deal with the underlying drug, alcohol or mental health issues that are often behind the behaviour we have seen in the town centre.

“It is now critical that we focus on how these powers will be enforced. That is why we have agreed to employ an additional two enforcement officers ourselves and to put in place an agreement with the police about how these powers will be used.”

The orders have been approved days after Derbyshire Constabulary confirmed that since it began an operation in August to target town centre anti-social behaviour, it has seen:

  • 73 arrests made and thousands of pounds worth of illegal substances taken off the streets
  • 19 people jailed who were regularly causing town centre problems, with more awaiting trial or subject to on-going investigations
  • High visibility policing taking place to deal with the issues and reassure the public. This has included a police van being based in New Square
  • Plain clothed police officers running operations to catch offenders
  • Later this week the second Town Centre Summit, chaired by the Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner will be held at Chesterfield Town Hall. The group brings together public sector and voluntary sector partners to come up with sustainable solutions to the town centre issues that have been experienced.

Work is focused on three areas:

  • Enforcement – which includes the new Public Space Protection Orders and increased police enforcement action
  • Treatment and support – which is focusing on providing longer term solutions to enable the people concerned to receive mental health, alcohol or drug treatment as well as finding long term housing solutions
  • Welfare policy - asking the Government to reconsider some of the changes to welfare reforms that are contributing to the issue.
  • At the meeting partners will report back on actions they have taken since the first meeting in July and agree what they will do in the coming months.

First published on 11 October 2017 Last updated on 11 October 2017