The implementation of a PSPO seeking to control a number of behaviours is an entirely new approach to anti-social behaviour in Aylesbury town centre. The effect of the Order is to impose the following prohibitions at all times:
In the restricted area any person who continues to carry out the following activities from which they are prohibited commits an offence:
- Consuming alcohol or being in possession of an open container of alcohol.
- Public urination or defecation.
- General behaviour reasonably perceived to be intimidating and/or aggressive.
- Failure of owner or person in control to remove dog faeces.
- Parking without permission or authority on the public realm of Kingsbury and Market Square.
Consuming alcohol or being in possession of an open container of alcohol
The PSPO cannot restrict the consumption of alcohol where the premises or its curtilage (pavement seating area) is licensed for the supply of alcohol. It is not an offence to drink alcohol in a controlled drinking zone. However it is an offence to not comply with a request to cease drinking or surrender alcohol in a controlled drinking zone. If alcohol is confiscated, it can be disposed of by the person who confiscates it.
Although failure to comply is an offence and can result in a fine of up to £500 in the Magistrates’ Court or can be dealt with by issuing a fixed penalty notice, it is expected that the consumption of alcohol will be dealt with in the same fashion as with the former Designated Public Space Protection Order (DPPO). That is to require the individual to stop drinking and hand over the container from which they have been drinking. Should the circumstances warrant it or a particular individual prove to be a repeat offender formal action can be considered.
Public urination and defecation
Under the auspices of the PSPO urinating or defecating is a criminal offence. The police do have existing powers to deal with this behaviour, depending on the circumstances. The PSPO provides an additional and absolute power.
A breach of the PSPO for this can result in a fine up to a £1000 in the Magistrates’ Court or can be dealt with by issuing a fixed penalty notice. Anyone found contravening the Order will be put on notice that they have breached the PSPO and informed of the potential consequences. Should a particular individual prove to be a repeat offender formal action may be considered depending on the facts and circumstances and any other interventions.
General behaviour reasonably perceived to be intimidating and/or aggressive
The police do have powers to deal with this kind of behaviour under the Public Order Act 1986, for example. It is likely that offences involving threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour or disorderly behaviour will be dealt with using Public Order legislation. However its inclusion in the PSPO provides an additional power which might provide an alternative mechanism to deal with repeat offenders and expedite formal action via the Magistrates’ Court. Magistrates are able to require a person to engage in positive activities by granting a Criminal Behaviour Order, for example: failure of owner or person in control to remove dog faeces.
Parking without permission or authority on the public realm of Kingsbury and Market Square
The public realms of Kingsbury and Market Square in legal terms do not permit enforcement by the County’s parking attendants in the normal way. Unauthorised parking has therefore been included within the PSPO so as to ensure reasonable and consistent regulation of these areas. It is hoped that with adequate signage and publicity the PSPO will, in the majority of cases deter parking on these public realms. However should an individual choose to park on Kingsbury or Market Square, without permission they are in breach of the Order. Permission has to be sought and granted by the Town Centre Manager and/or Aylesbury Vale District Council Estates Department. Permission is normally granted for either essential maintenance or the setting up of events and therefore it will be self evident if a vehicle is parked without permission. Whilst with other breaches enforcement intervention will start at the lowest level i.e. advice, referral, etc unauthorised parking is considered to be absolute and with the exception of genuinely exceptional circumstances, unacceptable. As such a fixed penalty notice will be issued.
With the exception of unauthorised parking on Kingsbury and Market Square enforcement action is initially considered only a last resort, unless of course the behaviour warrants it. Enforcement action can only be taken where there is evidence of the offence having taken place. The recording and storage of evidence must be carried out in a concise and consistent manner to ensure its admissibility.
Where enforcement action is warranted the District Council reserves the right to discharge its duty in one of three ways.
- Written warning
Written warning will only be used when there is evidence that shows that beyond reasonable doubt that a person has committed an offence and it is considered inappropriate to issue a fixed penalty notice.
A written warning will contain the following information: date, time and location of the offence, the nature of the offence and relevant legislation.
- Fixed penalty notice
A fixed penalty notice will be issued to a person who has committed an offence where it is considered that a warning is not appropriate. For example, somebody who has already been issued a written warning(s) or has been repeatedly advised that they have breached the Order or if the nature of the breach warrants it.
The fixed penalty notice will contain the following information: date, time and location of the offence, the nature of the offence and the relevant legislation. The notice will state that by opting to pay the fixed penalty the Council will not take legal action for the prescribed offence, provided that the payment is received within 14 days of issuing the notice.
In certain cases prosecution through the courts may be the most appropriate course of action or where other enforcement actions have had no effect. Prosecution will likely follow when:
- A fixed penalty notice is issued to an offender is returned unpaid after the 14 day payment period.
- Three fixed penalty notices have been issued to a person.
- A fixed penalty notice is considered insufficient.