Consultation on anti-social behaviour powers to be considered
Worcester city councillors are set to consider consulting the public on the potential introduction of new powers to tackle anti-social behaviour in the city centre.
The move could lead to fines or exclusion orders for people who are under the influence of drugs in the city centre, cycling or skateboarding in an inconsiderate way in the daytime, or begging aggressively.
A report to the Communities Committee on February 4 recommends a consultation be carried out to find out if there is public support for the move.
The consultation could open the way to the council making a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) for the city centre under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014
Councillor James Stanley, Chair of the Communities Committee, said: "We are making this proposal after looking at figures for the main areas of anti-social behaviour that attract complaints.
"We know some of these issues can be quite sensitive so this consultation, if it is supported by the committee, will be very much an attempt to gauge the public mood and see if there is a desire for additional powers to be brought in."
The move comes after discussions between the City Council, the police and other partners, including Worcester Business Improvement District (BID), Fortis Living and local charities including Warwickshire and West Mercia Community Rehabilitation Company, St Paul's Hostel and Maggs Day Centre.
It is being proposed that Worcester residents are asked for their views on bringing in a PSPO to give extra powers for tackling people in the city centre under the influence of drugs and legal highs; urinating and defecating in public; feeding of certain birds, including gulls; aggressive begging; and aggressive or inconsiderate riding of a bike, scooter or skateboard.
If a PSPO is introduced it would add to powers that the police already have for tackling anti-social behaviour. It could mean perpetrators are given on the spot £70 fines or banned from Worcester's city centre.
In particularly sensitive matters, such as aggressive begging, action would only be taken as a last resort when all other attempts to engage with the perpetrator have proven unsuccessful. No action would be taken against genuine rough sleepers, with the powers reserved for use against individuals who are known to be part of an organised begging scheme. The City Council works with partner agencies to provide a programme of support to rough sleepers.
"We know many people do want to see more action taken against anti-social behaviour in the city, however we are genuinely open-minded on whether introducing a PSPO is the right way to go. If the committee agrees to launch a consultation, I would urge Worcester residents to take this opportunity to let us know if they support this course of action," said Cllr Stanley.
If a consultation is launched, it will start on February 15 and run for eight weeks.