New Public Spaces Protection Orders tackle anti-social behaviour

Dorset Councillors have approved eight new Public Spaces Protection Orders for 2022. The new orders will replace the existing orders for West Dorset and Weymouth & Portland.

The orders cover anti-social behaviour in Bridport, Dorchester, Lyme Regis, Portland, West Bay and Weymouth, and introduce new powers to tackle anti-social behaviour related to unauthorised camping on beaches and lighting of open fires in forest areas in Ringwood and Wareham.

Following public consultation in late 2021 and approval by Dorset Cabinet, the orders were made today (19 May 2022). They will come into force on the 1 July 2022 and expire on the 30 June 2025. The orders renew and introduce powers that can be used by the council and partners to address anti-social behaviour.

In all six towns dispersal powers are in place, which means that people engaging in anti-social behaviour could be fined if they fail to move on when asked.

The new orders restrict camping on beaches in several locations, including Chesil Beach, Weymouth Beach and Lulworth. This is in response to the rising number of people camping on beaches during recent summers, which led to a significant increase in nuisance complaints, damage to property, accumulation of rubbish and human waste and destruction of natural habitat.

The Dorset Open Land Anti-Social Behaviour related PSPO offers an additional measure in preventing wildfires, following the devastating fire at Wareham Forest in May 2020 which destroyed over 220 hectares of the forest. This measure is supported by Dorset & Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service, who emphasised they are committed to working with the council to protect these areas.

Cllr Laura Miller, Portfolio Holder for Customer and Community Services, said:

“Dorset Council has a key role to play in helping to make sure our public spaces can be used and enjoyed by everyone.

“We don’t want to prevent or stop people from enjoying themselves responsibly, but we know how anti-social behaviour can impact our communities and we need to ensure we have measures and tools in place should we need them.”

Additional notes

Under the provisions of s.66 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, an interested person may apply to the High Court within 6 weeks from the date that the PSPO is made to question its validity on the grounds that:

(a) the local authority did not have the power to make the order or variation, or to include particular prohibitions or requirements imposed by the order (or by the order as varied);

(b) a requirement under Chapter 2 of the Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 was not complied with in relation to the order.

An ‘interested person’ is defined by section 66(1) of the Act as being an individual who lives in the restricted area or who regularly works in or visits that area.

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