Following a public consultation, councillors at last week’s Cabinet meeting (Wednesday 29 June) approved a proposal for a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) to be put in place for Harrogate town centre for a 12 month period.
The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 introduced new powers to tackle anti-social behaviour. The Act allows councils to introduce a PSPO if:
- the local authority is satisfied that activities carried out in a public place have had or will have a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality
- the activities are persistent or continuing and are unreasonable and
- the restrictions imposed by an order are justifiable.
Putting a PSPO in place for Harrogate town centre doesn’t mean street drinking in the town centre is banned, but it does give enforcement officers the power to ask a person to stop drinking and ‘surrender’ their alcohol. A refusal to hand over the alcohol will be an offence and result in a fixed penalty notice of up to £100, reduced to £75 if the notice is paid within 14 days.
The PSPO will begin in mid-July. Harrogate Borough Council will be the prosecuting agency, with North Yorkshire Police and British Transport Police the enforcement agencies.
Enforcement signs will be installed informing drinkers that they can be asked to refrain from drinking alcohol if asked to by the police or Police Community Support Officers.
The order will also cover the interior of the railway station, the bus station, Victoria Shopping Centre, Victoria Multi Storey Car Park and Jubilee Multi Storey Car Park.
A PSPO order for Harrogate town centre is just one of the measures that the council, police and other support agencies have developed following concerns from businesses and the public about the anti-social behaviour linked to street drinking across the town.
Other measures include working with street drinkers to highlight treatment and support services and the police using additional powers such as dispersal notices. The council’s licensing team have already completed checks on alcohol retailers to remind them of their licensing conditions.
Councillor Mike Chambers is Harrogate Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Safer Communities.
Cllr Chambers said:
This Public Spaces Protection Order should make a real difference to people’s experience of Harrogate town centre as well as improving life for businesses and residents in certain areas.
The PSPO doesn’t represent a drinking ban – rather, it is a measure aimed at cutting down on the antisocial behaviour that is the result of street drinking.
The aim is not to just move the problem elsewhere but to provide the necessary support and help where it is needed as well as improving the atmosphere in the town centre for locals and visitors alike.
The PSPO will be reviewed after 12 months to check on its effectiveness.