10 December 2020 — Manifesto Club
BUSYBODY POWERS – fines for feeding stray cats, sitting on the pavement, and swearing
A Manifesto Club report exposed the ongoing use of ‘busybody’ powers, with more people than ever punished for petty offences by council officers and private security guards.
In only one year there were over 8700 Community Protection Notices (these are legal orders issued by council officers giving instructions to individuals). These included orders for people to cut their grass, to stop feeding stray cats, and for homeless people not to sit on the pavement.
In the same year, there were over 10,400 on-the-spot fines issued to people who broke PSPOs (Public Spaces Protection Orders are new criminal offences created by council officials). These included fines for swearing, idling engines, walking too many dogs, and begging. Most worryingly, the majority of these fines were issued by private security guards, who have an incentive to punish.
We successfully lobbied to gain tighter statutory guidance, but this guidance is being widely ignored, partly because legal appeal is so difficult. This research backs up our call for a wholesale scrapping of these busybody powers.
- There is an excellent petition on the UK Parliament website, calling for the substantial reform of PSPOs. Read our statement on the petition; sign the petition.
- Good news – the Joint Committee on Human Rights is currently holding an inquiry which includes the question of whether PSPOs need to be reformed. This is a key opportunity to put the scrapping of these powers on the agenda. Read our submission to the committee.
- We are monitoring the continued inappropriate use of ASB powers under lockdown and social distancing. While in lockdown, we received reports of homeless people being hassled with CPNs, and residents issued with legal orders telling them to remove weeds from their gardens. If you have experienced this, do get in touch.
THE COVID POLICE – restrictions on protest, the trouble with ‘track and trace’, Covid marshalls
- Nigel Jacklin documents the rise of coercive and unreasonable policing of London protests, saying that the right to free assembly has been disgracefully restricted.
- The chairman of a cancer charity describes how ‘track and trace’ is presenting grave problems for his members.
- We issued a statement against the ‘Rule of 6’, and continue to campaign for the removal of this unreasonable and intrusive law.
- We argued that Covid Marshals must be held to account, as abuses multiply. These include restaurants invaded by aggressive ‘black-booted bouncers’ telling them that Scotch eggs do not count as a ‘substantial meal’.