A new Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) has come into force in Hackney – just two years after national outrage led to the council hastily withdrawing the previous one.
PSPOs allow councils to crack down on antisocial behaviour in specific public spaces.
In 2015, the Town Hall faced a public backlash after introducing an order that enabled police and enforcement officers to dish out £100 on-the-spot fines for rough sleeping and begging.
After the Citizen broke the news, protests from campaigners and residents, who argued the PSPO “criminalised the homeless”, forced the council to withdraw it after just two months.
But the Town Hall said the new PSPO, which automatically superseded the borough-wide Designated Public Place Order (DPPO) on 20 October, has “no additional powers” and “relates only to alcohol”.
A council spokesperson said: “There is no change to the rules other than a change in name and there are no additional powers, which still relate only to alcohol, and create an offence when someone, who a police or enforcement officer suspects may cause antisocial behaviour, refuses to give up their alcohol when asked to do so.”
The council said the order will be in force for the next three years, after which it will decide whether or not to renew it.
Last year, the Town Hall took umbrage with the Citizen over a story about its alleged refusal to rule out future PSPOs.
A spokesperson at the time described the article as “entirely misleading and inaccurate”, adding that the Town Hall “will not be introducing a PSPO”.
Although the current order came into effect automatically under government rules, Hackney Council could have come up with an alternative before the October deadline.
When asked why it had allowed the PSPO to come into force, a spokesperson said: “It has always and continues to be an option to modify or end the DPPO/PSPO if we feel the alcohol controls aren’t working effectively, but we are currently satisfied with how they work.”
The widely-criticised 2015 PSPO was nicknamed “Linden’s Law” by local housing campaigner Heather Kennedy, after Hackney’s former deputy mayor Sophie Linden, who she accused of introducing the “draconian policy without public consultation”.
Linden is now London’s deputy mayor for policing and crime./ 23 November, 2017