Saturday, August 05, 2023

The new Moseley and Kings Heath Public Space Protection Order – some concerns


Birmingham City Council is currently consulting on the introduction of a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) that covers most of Moseley, Kings Heath (including most of their residential roads), Highbury Park and Kings Heath Park.

The police will have extra powers to restrict the following activities:

• Groups causing Anti-Social behaviour

• Being under the influence of intoxicating substance and/or alcohol while in a public place.

• Damage or destruction of property (graffiti)


This PSPO replaces a much earlier PSPO that ended on 25th September 2020 and which the Council did not renew. That old PSPO covered the years 2017 to 2020.

The old PSPO focused mainly on the shopping areas and restricted the following activities:

·         Anti-social behaviour caused by groups of people or individuals in public spaces;

·         Verbal abuse;

·         Threats of or use of violence;

·         Anti-Social Street drinking;

·         Obstructing Pathways;

·         Begging;

·         Possession of goods, items or materials used for unauthorised graffiti;

My initial thoughts on the new PSPO is: why has the scope of the restricted activities been watered down compared to the old PSPO, with a lot of anti-social activities removed. The old PSPO gave the police extra powers to deal with anti-social behaviours that were difficult enforce due and took months and months of paperwork to restrict on individuals, The new PSPO leaves three activities for which the police don’t need any extra powers, with one activity that is worrying broad in scope.

For example, the new PSPO restricts “Damage or destruction of property (graffiti)”. This activity is already covered by section 1 of the criminal act 1971 and doesn’t need a PSPO. In contrast, the old PSPO restricted the “Possession of goods, items or materials used for unauthorised graffiti” which meant the police could intervene and prevent a known graffiti tagger from starting their nightly anti-social activity.

Another example, the new PSPO restricts “Being under the influence of intoxicating substance and/or alcohol while in a public place.”, which would potentially mean that anyone leaving the pubs of Moseley or Kings Heath on a Saturday could be handed out an on-the-spot fine by the police for being intoxicated. In contrast, the old PSPO restricted “Anti-Social Street drinking” which is what the public are really concerned about.

The old PSPO restricted “obstructing pathways” and “begging” –these activities are removed from the new PSPO. The old PSPO meant that restrictions could be put on individuals who were begging and had no need to beg. Removing this is a big mistake. Believe me, I had to deal lots of people who did not need to beg and did it to get extra cash. To illustrate my point, I had to deal with one person begging in Kings Heath, who lived in Council warden-controlled accommodation, had all the support given to him that he requested – I had a meeting with him and his Housing Officer - and he would still beg with a big sign saying “I’m homeless.” And before someone jumps down my throat, yes we dealt with plenty of people who were begging and in genuine need. In these cases they were given assistance in ensuring they were claiming benefits that they were entitled to and accommodation was found for them – although finding accommodation for people who refused to come off heroin was impossible.

The consultation on the Moseley & Kings Heath PSPO can be seen

A link to the draft PSPO is at the bottom of that page  - it is in tiny letters and easily missed.


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