Renewal of public space protection order proposed – Coventry City Council

West Midlands Police and Coventry City Council are hoping to gain support from councillors to renew a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) covering areas in the city centre and surrounding areas.

In a report to Cabinet Members on 12 April, officers from both the police and local authority will highlight the need to renew a PSPO which was created in 2019 in St Michael’s ward and surrounding areas. 

It was introduced to address an increase in violent crime across Coventry especially in some locations around and on the edge of the city centre.

According to senior police officers, the PSPO assists them in combating crime by enabling officers to act quicker and more effectively if they suspect people have gathered in the city centre intent on causing trouble.

In a note supporting the renewal proposal Daryl Lyon, Chief Inspector for West Midlands Police, covering Coventry, said: “Whilst we know no tool on its own will address all matters, we are supportive of the renewal of this PSPO. 

“It will greatly assist my officers to be able to use these powers, when proportionate and necessary, to address matters within the city to reduce issues with gangs and public place violence.

“I would conclude by saying that the power is there as a potential tool to help keep and maintain order in public spaces. There must be a clear and legitimate need to use it.”

The Order gives police the power to move on any groups that they believe are an anti-social behaviour or crime risk. The report states that although there has been a downwards trend in the seriousness of incidents and some excellent partnership work to address matters, there is a high possibility that some reduction was as a result of the COVID-19. pandemic, and as such it is still felt that there is justification for the renewal of the order.

The extent of the proposed PSPO boundaries aims to avoid displacement of criminal activity in parts of the city centre and other areas including the Canal Basin and Gosford Green.

Craig Hickin, Head of Environmental Services at the Council, added: “The PSPO was brought in with overwhelming support from the public, businesses, partners and people who visit the city centre. The police and partners have clearly set out the benefits of retaining the order.

“Any Order must be targeted effectively and not stigmatise innocent people.” 

He added: “No single aspect of enforcement will work perfectly on its own, but this order, along with other tactics, can be very effective in keeping the city safe from the dangers of gangs, criminal exploitation and associated behaviours.”

PSPOs are intended to provide a means of preventing individuals or groups committing anti-social behaviour in a public space where behaviour is having, or likely to have, a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality; be persistent or continuing in nature; and be unreasonable. 

Only local authorities can declare a PSPO. If Councillors support the proposal the PSPO will be renewed from June 2022 and would be valid for three years. EndsAdditional notes for editors The order is an “informed order” this means that someone will be informed that there is an order in place and that their behaviour is unacceptable. 

Should they accept an officer’s instruction, there is no further action taken. Should they refuse then that will be a breach of the order. In the three years of operation there have been 49 breach notices issued. Breach notices allow further assessment to decide upon the most appropriate sanction. This may be a formal warning, a referral to other agencies regarding drug or alcohol use or it may result in a fixed penalty notice or a referral to court. Most individuals are only encountered once and as such we do not often issue fixed penalty notices or refer to court. 

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