Consultation starts on use of powers to tackle anti-social behaviour

Published: Friday, 28th September 2018

A public consultation is starting today (Friday) on the use of powers to help tackle anti-social behaviour in the city centre.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council, working closely with Staffordshire Police, is inviting residents, businesses, landlords and organisations to give their views on a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) – a tool used in towns and cities across the UK to address issues in public spaces that have a detrimental effect on those living, visiting and working there.

The order would cover an area that includes the city centre, Festival Park, Octagon Retail Park, Hanley Park and the Portland Street estate. The consultation will last for six weeks.

The proposed order is based on the following conditions:

  • That no-one shall have in their possession an open alcoholic drink, other than in the grounds of licensed premises or at an organised licensed event.
  • That no-one shall beg or solicit money in the area.
  • That no-one in the area shall cause an obstruction on a street or green space or to a public toilet, after being asked to remove the obstruction. Obstructions could include those caused by fly-tipping or illegal vendors.
  • That no-one in the area shall engage in behaviour or language that causes, or is likely to cause, alarm or distress.

Figures from Staffordshire Police show that reported incidents of anti-social behaviour in the wider Etruria and Hanley area have increased by six per cent over the last 12 months, from 1,784 to 1,888.

The city centre is already covered by an alcohol restriction zone that has been in place for a number of years – a PSPO focused specifically on the issue of combatting street drinking. Part of the consultation is to review this restriction, and invite responses on the other conditions.

Alongside the PSPO, the city council is increasing its team of anti-social behaviour officers. They will work across the city to support residents and businesses in tackling issues in communities. The Business Crime Reduction Partnership also operates in the city centre, and brings businesses together, by sharing intelligence and joining in safety campaigns.

Councillor Randolph Conteh, cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city, said: “PSPOs are used across the country and are another tool which can help Staffordshire Police and the council deal with individuals whose behaviour has a detrimental effect on other people’s quality of life.

“We want people to continue to enjoy our city centre and public spaces in a safe and welcoming environment. We work very closely with businesses and attractions and together we are all committed to doing everything we can to ensure the city centre is a great place to shop and do business.”

Chief Inspector John Owen, commander of the Stoke North neighbourhood policing team with responsibility for Hanley, said: “Anti-social behaviour in the city centre is not a new issue; we have been working with partners to tackle this for a number of years. The volume of incidents in the city centre remains higher than in other wards or towns in the city.

“A Public Spaces Protection Order would give us and partners additional powers to help tackle the issues faced in the city centre. Our officers could then do more to support those in need and boost the confidence of local residents and businesses as we prevent more crime in the future.

“A PSPO is a significant tool as we and partners work to make the city centre into a safer location for people to work, live and visit.”

Councillor Conteh added: “A PSPO would be used in conjunction with work to address behaviour often linked to crime and disorder. Both the council and police have received a high number of complaints from residents, workers and visitors to the city centre. This is why we are consulting on the use of this tool, as a way to respond to what both businesses and visitors have told us is a problem. The issues are common to those in many towns and cities.

“It is really important that residents, businesses, visitors to the city centre and voluntary groups have the chance to comment on these proposals and we want to hear what people think so that they can help inform what happens next.”

Staffordshire Business Crime Partnership manager Julie Davies said: “Crime and disorder impacts on both the retail and night time economies in the city centre. It has an adverse effect on all those who work, live and invest there.

“Through the partnership, businesses work hard together on campaigns and initiatives, and share intelligence and information. We strive to make the city centre a safer, more pleasant place to visit. Additional tools that help to protect businesses and visitors would further support this work, in conjunction with agencies working to provide support to people where appropriate.”

intu Potteries general manager Paul Francis said: “We are always interested in ideas to make Stoke-on-Trent city centre a better place to visit and shop. We are looking forward to seeing the proposals and for the opportunity to comment on them.”

Jonathan Bellamy, chair of the city centre Business Improvement District (BID), said: “Stoke-on-Trent City Centre Business Improvement District was formed in July after 83 per cent of businesses who voted were in favour of the move. One of the priority issues for these businesses was to see the BID help work towards dealing with recurring anti-social behaviour.

“ASB issues undermine the quality of experience that city centre shoppers and visitors can receive. The knock on of this means fewer people coming in, for less time. And with nearly 500 businesses in our core city centre, employing thousands of local people, having a healthy and flourishing city centre is vital for us all.

“The conditions outlined in the PSPO are proposed to address the issues having a detrimental impact on all those who work, live and visit the city centre.”

The consultation runs until Friday 9 November. People can give their views on the proposals by filling in an online form at www.stoke.gov.uk/PSPO, emailing asb@stoke.gov.uk, or writing to ASB Team, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Glebe Street, Stoke, ST4 1HH. A public meeting will also take place 6.30-8pm on Tuesday 2 October at City Central Library, Bethesda Street, Hanley, ST1 3RS.

For all media enquiries please contact  the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232671.