Public Space Protection Order
Public Space Protection Order (PSPO)
Dartford Borough Council first made the order for the PSPO in 2017 to address the anti-social behaviour caused by certain use of motor vehicles, unsocial drinking and other forms of anti-social behaviour which negatively impacts upon individuals and businesses in Town Ward. This order ended in 2019.
In March 2020 The Council sought the public’s views on renewing the Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) in Town Ward. A positive response was received and the Council has now had the order renewed. This renewal of the PSPO lasts for another three years. . A copy or the order, and the area it covers can be downloaded below.
PSPO’s were created by the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and are intended to deal with any nuisance or problem in a defined area that is detrimental to the local community's quality of life. A PSPO can impose restrictions on the use of an area which applies to everyone. The PSPO isn’t an order to restrict anyone’s personal freedoms, but to help tackle anti-social behaviours, in this case those associated with street drinking and the inappropriate use of motor vehicles.
Failure to comply with a PSPO enables authorised enforcement officers to issue fixed penalty notices of up to £100 or the person could find themselves prosecuted. A breach is a criminal offence and there is a maximum penalty of a £1,000.
FAQs: Public Space Protection Order – Dartford Town Centre
Frequently asked questions about the prohibition and requirement contained in the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO).
What is a Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO)?
This is an area that can be designated by Dartford Borough Council where anti-social behaviour has been causing a nuisance or annoyance. In the designated area, Police, Police Community Support Officers and Council Officers have certain powers to help tackle the anti-social behaviour that is identified within the Order.
Are there time restrictions on a PSPO?
Most of the conditions of the PSPO will apply all day every day, however, the conditions in relation to the anti-social use of vehicles will only apply between 8pm and 6am every day. The PSPO will last for three years and can be extended, following a review.
Will there be any extra policing to enforce the PSPO?
No. The Neighbourhood Teams will continue to patrol and respond to incidents as part of their community response. However the Council have recently delegated powers to the Accredited Civil Enforcement Officers that already work in the District which enables them to enforce the new PSPO.
What are the benefits of a PSPO?
The main benefits of a PSPO are to help tackle anti-social behaviour that are highlighted in the Order. They are all aimed at making our Town Centre safer and a more pleasant place to be.
What will the PSPO control?
The PSPO will seek to control the following forms of anti-social behaviour:
- Persons within the Restricted Area will not ingest, inhale, inject, smoke, process or otherwise use intoxicating substances
- Persons within the Restricted Area will not have in their possession any open containers of intoxicating substances
- Persons within the Restricted Area will not have any item that can be used to assist in the taking of intoxicating substances. This includes any device for smoking substances other than e-cigarettes and needles (save for those packaged and sealed by the manufacturer and stored in a hard case)
- Persons within the Restricted Area will not sell or supply intoxicating substances
Use of vehicles
- Persons will not enter the Restricted Area in motor vehicles between the hours of 8p.m and 6a.m Monday to Sunday for the purpose of engaging in motor vehicle displaying and racing
- Persons will not gather in the Restricted Area with others between the hours of 8p.m and 6a.m Monday to Sunday for the purpose of preparing motor vehicles for racing or preparing motor vehicles for displaying or racing
- Persons will not attend or gather in the Restricted Area between the hours of 8p.m and 6a.m Monday to Sunday for the purpose of watching motor vehicles being displayed or raced
- Persons will not congregate and loiter in groups and engage in behaviour which is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress between the hours of 8p.m and 6a.m. Monday to Sunday
- Any person being a keeper will not perform any of the following activities in the Restricted Area between the hours of 8p.m and 6a.m Monday to Sunday:
- revving of engine(s) (as to cause a nuisance);
- repeated sudden and rapid acceleration (as to cause a nuisance);
- performing stunts (as to cause a nuisance);
- sounding horns (as to cause a nuisance);
- playing music in a motor vehicle (as to cause a nuisance);
- using threatening, intimidating behaviour towards another person
- Not consume alcohol, or have an open alcohol container within the restricted area (unless certain exemptions apply)
Other Forms of anti-social behaviour
At all times, persons will not in the Restricted Area:
- urinate or defecate (unless in a toilet facility);
- swear, shout, or act in a threatening manner;
- act in a manner that is causing or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress
Can the Order require people to do things?
Yes, the order allows authorised officers (this means Police officer, police community support officer or an authorised Council officer) to make the following requests of any person within the Restricted Area
- surrender any open containers of intoxicating substances in their possession;
- surrender to the authorised officer(s) any item used to assist in the taking of intoxicating substances and comply immediately with the authorised officer(s) reasonable request to secure safe disposal of any needles in their possession not sealed and stored, as referred to in paragraph 7(iii.) above;
- cease and remove any obstruction from the highway, whether moving or stationary, including driving in convoy;
- cease consuming alcohol (or anything which the authorised officer(s) reasonably believes to be alcohol) and surrender to the authorised officer(s), any open containers of alcohol in their possession
Consumption of alcohol in a public place
The Order stipulates
Persons within the Restricted Area will, on the request of an authorised officer(s):
Cease consuming alcohol (or anything which the authorised officer(s) reasonably believes to be alcohol) and surrender to the authorised officer(s), any open containers of alcohol in their possession.
What is an “authorised officer”?
An authorised person shall be a police constable, police community support officer or a designated Dartford Borough Council Officer who must be able to present their identity on request.
What are the concerns and issues with street drinking?
Street drinking is sometimes associated with anti-social behaviour, causing high levels of noise, rowdy and nuisance behaviour, harassment and intimidation of passers-by, as well as the littering of cans and bottles.
Would people still be able to drink and hold bottles outside pubs?
Yes. The PSPO does not make it illegal to drink alcohol in a public place, however, if a person was to drink beyond the legal boundary of a licensed premise and they do not stop drinking when asked to do so by a police officer or other authorised officer then they could be at risk of breaching the order.
Are licensed premises affected?
Although a PSPO would restrict alcohol consumption in a public area, the Act states that licensed premises are not affected.
What about street parties and events in parks?
Events within a public place authorised by a license (or a Temporary Event Notice) will be excluded from the PSPO powers.
A PSPO is not an outright ban on street drinking. It is not an offence to consume alcohol in a public place; the offence is failing to comply with an officer’s request.
Do police already have these powers?
The police can make an arrest for street drinking related anti-social behaviour (Public Order); however it is only an offence to refuse to stop drinking/surrender the alcohol when asked where a PSPO is in operation. Where there is no PSPO in operation, it is not an offence alone to refuse to surrender alcohol, although any related anti-social behaviour can give cause for arrest.
Will there be signs in Dartford Town alerting people to the new PSPO?
Yes. New signs will be located in the designated area to signify that there is a PSPO in operation.
What happens if a person cannot afford to pay the fine associated with the new PSPO?
It is helpful to understands that a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) is not a fine. Only the Courts have powers to fine and issue sanctions following a conviction.
A FPN is a tool that can be used for in certain circumstances where an individual accepts that they have ‘broken the law’ but does not wish to be summoned to court and would rather pay a sum of money to discharge their liability for conviction.
If an individual either has no money to pay or felt that they were innocent, then they could then appear in front of a Magistrate and plead their case.
If they were found guilty then it would be up to the Courts to impose a sanction, and they would take into account their ability to pay.
If they were vulnerable or in need of support, then Dartford Borough Council would suggest to the court that a positive sanction would be more appropriate, for example accepting help for an addiction or engaging with Council or a charitable support service.