2. The proposals
Proposed area for PSPO public consultation
PSPOs are tools under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 which are intended to deal with particular nuisances or problems affecting a specified area that are detrimental to the local community’s way of life. They 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
PSPOs are used to control a range of activities where there is evidence of detriment. The following controls were included in the 2017 orders and have been retained in the 2020 orders. Control of anti-social behaviour and the consumption of intoxicating substances in Exmouth and Sidmouth – this order relates to a number of designated streets in Exmouth and Sidmouth where certain controls are needed at the request of Devon and Cornwall Police in order to enable them to manage behaviours. The streets included are those where there have been particular problems in past years. Although only low numbers of fixed penalty notices have been served under this order since its introduction, the ability to use the power to move individuals on and remove containers of alcohol is implemented weekly by the police.
Over the last 3 years the Environmental Protection team have publicised the order on several occasions, they have talked to town and parish councils, community groups, residents, businesses and visitors. They have also arranged for all the areas covered by specific orders to be appropriately signed and the orders themselves are on the council’s website.
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. Some council officers and police officers are authorised to enforce the requirements of the orders.
There is a requirement in the legislation for interested parties to be consulted about the proposals of a variation. The last formal review of the PSPO was conducted by the Environmental Protection Team where Town and Parish councils were consulted in November 2019 and a public consultation process was undertaken between 23rd January and 20th March 2020. Council members and town and parish councils were also advised of this. Consultees also included Devon and Cornwall Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner. There was a press release drawing attention to the web based consultation, and paper copies were made available on request. The consultation responses were supportive.
In June 2020 on Exmouth Beach we saw a significant disturbance observed over a weekend exiting from lockdown, these issues continued sporadically over that summer with a significant increase in ASB and littering linked to the alcohol fuelled ASB. It was felt at the time this was likely to be an isolated occasion/period of time. This however reoccurred over the Easter bank holiday weekend 1 April to 5 April 2021 when the ability for groups to meet was released. Again alcohol fuelled ASB was seen on Exmouth beach with littering, Urination and Defecation occurring where the use of toilets has been restricted.
It is considered that during this summer and the new demand of the “Staycation” we are likely to see an increased level of alcohol fuelled ASB linked to the beach area. Holiday periods still to come are the half term break 31st May 2021 which includes a bank holiday Monday. End of summer term 27th July 2021, bank holiday weekend 30th August and the University Fresher’s weeks in September.
The Police have the power to invoke Section 35 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 which when authorised by an Inspector allows them to move people on from identified locations for a period of 48 hours if they believe that crime and disorder is taking place or individuals are being subjected to Harassment alarm or distress. This has limited impact but is a very useful tool for the police which can be used alongside the PSPO. The ASB PSPO gives the police the power to issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) to deal with the issues at hand as well as seize containers of alcohol / intoxicating substances. This allows Police to effectively deal with the problems as well as retaining resources at the location of an incident.
The PSPO is already in existence in a number of central streets in Exmouth and allows authorised officers to deal with individuals by way of fixed penalty notices for:
- Possessing intoxicating substance including alcohol
- Urination and defecation within a street or public place
- Aggressive requests for money
- Intimidation, harassment, alarm or distress
The beach area and the area’s considered as area of displacement are likely to see behaviours of 1, 2 and 4 but section 3 is not currently identified as part of the beach area problem, but a smaller wider problem that is still seen in Exmouth. It was considered practical for this section to remain for the whole area to ensure understanding and management of the order were kept simple.
The proposal would be for a variation by extending the coverage to additional areas for inclusion in the existing order. The current locations for the PSPO work from the central Strand area towards the beach and further round towards the Estuary. The areas of the most recent problems have centred around the beach from Orcombe point up towards Queens Drive, The displacement considerations stretch East round on to Sandy Bay beach and up onto Fox holes via the Zigzag path and around to The Geoneedle as well as West round to The Half-moon field.
Existing Public Space Protection Order locations( Red Outline);
- The Strand and surrounding area including: Manchester Street, Manchester Road, Elm Grove, Chapel Hill, Queen Street, Tower Street, High Street, Rolle Street.
- The Magnolia centre and surrounding area including: Parade, Crudges Lane, Market Street, Magnolia Centre and Magnolia Walk, Chapel Street, Church Street, Margaret Street, London Inn car park and Lower Fore Street.
- Station car park and surrounding area including: Commercial vehicle park, Bus station, Sports Centre grounds, Marine Way and Imperial Road.
- The Manor Gardens
- The Plantation and surrounding area: Bath Road, The Pavilion Grounds, Gunfield Gardens and Madeira Walk.
Additional locations we're proposing to add to the Public Space Protection Order( Blue outline);
- Beach area from Sandy Bay via Orcombe Point, the coastal slopes and donkey field up onto Fox Holes Hill, the zig zag path, the path and area round to The Geoneedle ; past the RNLI station;
- past the coastguard look out station; past the Beach Gardens The Esplanade, The Maer, Queens Drive; Mamhead view; Pier Head; The Point; Past the Sailing Club;
- Past Camperdown Yard and Imperial Recreation Ground; Royal Parade; Across Shelley Bank; Along to the half-moon field.
Consideration for inclusion of other coastal area’s for an ASB PSPO was discounted at an early stage, as there has been limited reporting of historic problems, to justify a further order.
Early indications from Local Police and Exmouth Town Council are they are supportive of the extension of the PSPO. The move to a public consultation process was agreed by East Devon District Councillors during its Cabinet meeting on Wednesday 12 May 2021.
The PSPO does not create a ban on alcohol at locations; but is a tool for the Police and authorised council staff to be able to remove alcohol when it contributes to the escalation of anti-social behaviour (ASB). Members of the public should not be concerned that they will have police turning up and routinely just seizing their picnic drinks. The Police will be proportionate and sensitive around its enforcement, where it is linked as a precursor to ASB occurring or as a result of ASB occurring and use their discretion when to engage, when to educate, when to encourage and when there is a need to enforce.
Not extending the time fame for the variance allows it to come up for consideration at the same time period when the others are up for renewal and for any variance to be checked it is still needed and current.
Have your say on these proposals until 5pm 20th June 2021 (Now Closed). The variance, if agreed, by way of extension of the Exmouth footprint, would be in place as early as possible for summer 2021.