Public Service Protection Orders Need To Be Urgently Renewed
The Conservative candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner will take an active approach to unblock the renewal of Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) that have been allowed to lapse in Birmingham by the council.
Jay Singh-Sohal says he will give clearer direction on the orders to the police and work with councils to ensure they are put in place. He believes more PSPOs will be needed to help keep people safe as they return to the High Street and to clean up public spaces of low-level crimes including anti-social behaviour ahead of the Commonwealth Games in 2022.
It comes as residents and business owners in Moseley and Kings Heath express concerns about a potential rise in street drinking and nuisance begging since their PSPO was allowed to lapse in September 2020. Locals fear an uptick in anti-social behaviour as people return to the High Street and to pubs and restaurants as lockdown eases over the coming months. Councillors have so far refused to explain why the order was not renewed.
Furthermore, the Moseley and Kings Heath PSPO was not enforced by Birmingham City Council for a whole year, it is believed because the Council officer assigned to issue fines left the role and was not replaced during that time. Local police officers were not made aware of this and eventually stopped enforcing the protection order by not issuing tickets.
PSPOs have played a significant part in protecting the public space and helping local communities affected by so-called low level crimes such as anti-social behaviour and nuisance begging across the city. Wardens can quote the order to ask people who are congregating or contravening it to move on, which has helped disperse potential trouble from occurring and thus reducing crime.
Residents have previously pushed for PSPOs in Harborne and Birmingham city centre but these were blocked in 2019 by Labour. The Conservative PCC candidate says he will seek new evidence from West Midlands Police for implementing these as one of a number of measures to protect public areas ahead of the Commonwealth Games in 2022 when the eyes of the world will be on Birmingham, if he is elected.
Erdington Councillors have been working with the police and residents to get their local PSPO renewed, after the council once more allowed it to expire in 2020.
Jay Singh-Sohal said:
“I hear all-too frequently from residents concerned about so-called low level crime in their areas. I believe public space protection orders can help to tackle these issues as well as the fear factor some may have when thinking of venturing out into busy public areas. We need to clean up our city of nuisance problems that can lead to crime, and I intend to take a proactive approach, if elected PCC in May, in ensuring the police are providing the evidence for these orders in a timely manner. And I will hold Birmingham City Council to account for failing to renew or implement what is a necessary tool for cleaning up our city.”
Gary Sambrook MP for Birmingham Northfield said:
“The police do an excellent job in working with communities and providing evidence for where public service protection orders are needed. I am monitoring the situation in my own constituency of where PSPOs have expired and where new ones are needed. I look forward to working with a PCC who’ll put residents’ safety and the reputation of our city ahead of politics.”
Cllr Robert Alden, Conservative Group Leader said:
“I find it alarming that despite evidence showing public space protection orders work, the Labour council have failed to renew these on time, putting people at risk of increasing anti-social behaviour and worse. The residents of our great city should be kept safe by the PCC and Council yet they are discouraging our hard working bobbies from being able to use all the tools available, and I urge the PCC to listen to what residents are saying and demand the Council is renewing these on time.”
Jay also praised West Midlands Police for providing evidence for where PSPOs are needed, but says local residents are being let down by Birmingham City Council who are not renewing the orders in a timely manner.
The PSPO for Edgewood Road, Rednall expired on 11 February, while Kings Road, Kings Heath is due to expire on the 28th March. The protection order for Sutton Coldfield town centre will expire in August this year, and Jay is discussing with local town councillors and Andrew Mitchell MP a PSPO for Sutton’s Royal Park.
PSPO’s were were introduced by the coalition government in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. A PSPO is intended to deal with particular anti-social behaviour in a specific area, such as begging and on-street drinking.