Council’s environmental protection team and neighbourhood policing teams working together to keep areas safe

East Devon District Council has recently introduced a second group of public spaces protection orders (PSPOs) which are local measures used to control a range of unacceptable activities.

This new order, made on June 6, 2017, relates to possession of intoxicating substances (including alcohol), urination and defecation (in public), aggressive begging, and behaving in a way likely to cause harassment or intimidation.  The order applies in a large area in the centre of Exmouth.  The alcohol provisions only also apply to a smaller area of Sidmouth.

A PSPO is a new tool under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 which is intended to deal with a particular nuisance or problem affecting a specified area that is detrimental to the local community’s way of life. This provision can be used for a wide range of problems. The area may be as small as a play park or as large as the district of the local authority as a whole.

A PSPO can be made by the council if it is satisfied on reasonable grounds that the activities carried out, or likely to be carried out, in a public space:
• Have had, or are likely to have, a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality;
And that the effect or likely effect of the activities:
• Is or is likely to be persistent or continuing in nature;
• Is or is likely to be unreasonable and
• Justifies the restrictions imposed.

The new restrictions in Exmouth were requested by Exmouth’s neighbourhood policing team. An Impact Statement provided by the Exmouth town Neighbourhood Beat Manager has stated that there were 135 reported incidents of anti-social behaviour of this type in the area of the Magnolia Centre, London Inn car park, Chapel Street and The Strand in the year September 2015 to September 2016.

There were reports of the public use of new psychoactive substances, drinking alcohol excessively, urinating in public, smashed bottles and aggressive begging as well as aggressive behaviour towards members of the public and shop workers. There have also been issues with litter and evidence of drug paraphernalia being left as a result of groups congregating for drinking and drug dealing.

In Sidmouth the order simply replaces an existing requirement for people drinking excessively in the street to surrender alcohol on request.

The PSPO will remain in force for three years at which point it will be reviewed, amended and renewed as appropriate.  There is potential for other areas to be included in some or all of the controls if evidence of a persistent problem is provided by the Police.

A person observed not to be complying with the PSPO is liable to receive a fixed penalty notice of £80.  The alternative is to take enforcement action in the Magistrates Court.  Police officers will be able to enforce some of the requirements of the orders at the time of the incidents.  Initially this will include providing advice to the offenders and requesting them to surrender substances or move on. 

Cllr Tom Wright, East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for the Environment, said:

The introduction of this order is an excellent example of the partnership working that our environmental protection team carry out with the neighbourhood policing teams.  We are all working together to keep Exmouth and Sidmouth safe and to prevent members of the public feeling intimidated by the behaviour of a small minority of people.

The areas covered by the orders have been clearly signed and members of the public effected by or concerned about any of the behaviours described in the order should call101 or email in the first instance and their enquiry will be followed up by the neighbourhood policing team.