Action proposed to reduce anti-social behaviour in Worcester city centre

Action to tackle anti-social behaviour is being proposed to make sure Worcester city centre is an even better place to visit and work in.

The City Council's Communities Committee is set to consider a report on October 30 to introduce extra powers to encourage people not to feed gulls and pigeons in the city, to reduce incidents of dangerous cycling and skateboarding and to address aggressive begging.

The committee will examine a proposed Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) to address these issues and will be asked to agree to launch a public consultation on the PSPO.

The move follows the results of a survey of Worcester residents carried out by the City Council in March and April. That asked people for their views on action to control a wide range of anti-social behaviour, also including urinating and defecating in public, sitting and standing for the purposes of begging and taking drugs and illegal highs.

Several of these have been ruled out of the proposed PSPO, either because of a low level of support from the public or because the police already have powers to control them.

Councillor Lynn Denham, Vice Chair of the Communities Committee, said: "We have listened carefully to the views of local people about which aspects of anti-social behaviour most concern them in the city centre. Based on this feedback, council officers have developed a draft order which councillors will debate at the Communities Committee."

The inclusion of powers to control the feeding of birds was supported by 44% of people who responded to the survey. The proposed PSPO recognises that there are particular issues with gulls and pigeons, so it only includes powers in relation to those two species. There will not be any restrictions on feeding of other types of bird, such as the swans on the river Severn.

Aggressive begging includes approaching people to beg for money, loitering near cash machines, and causing annoyance, fear or distress. In the survey, more than 62% of respondents supported aggressive begging being included in the PSPO, but only around 41% backed the inclusion of sitting or standing for begging. The report to the Committee says that fixed penalty notices would only be issued for aggressive begging after other channels of action have been exhausted. The starting point will always be for rough sleeper support services to approach an individual to offer help and engagement, with the aim of helping them back into accommodation.

Just under 40% of the survey respondents supported the inclusion of dangerous cycling and skateboarding in the PSPO, but after consulting partners including the police and Worcester BID it was decided to include it in the draft PSPO because of the impact such behaviour can have on people spending time in the city centre.

If approved, the PSPO will be made under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, which gives councils the power to make orders to address specific types of anti-social behaviour.

If the committee backs the move the Council will launch a four-week consultation to give the public the chance to have their say on the proposed PSPO.

Should the new powers be brought in, people who are found to be breaching the new rules and who refuse to change their behaviour could be issued with a £100 fixed penalty notice or face prosecution in court. 

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