No fixed penalty notices have been issued to date under the Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) brought in to combat antisocial behaviour in Margate and Ramsgate.
The orders were passed by Thanet council in July after hundreds of complaints and enforcement action against people spitting, urinating and defecating in public areas as well as jumping between buildings.
They cover Margate Central and Central Harbour in Ramsgate and parts of Eastcliff in Ramsgate and Cliftonville West.
These wards have the highest rate of antisocial behaviour reports in the district accounting for more than half – 53% – of all complaints.
But a report to councillors says progress has been slow following delays in implementing the orders due to a lack of officers, lateness of training and sign installations and policy which prohibits police officers or PCSOs from issuing fixed penalty notices to any person under the age of 18.
A report to the community safety committee, due to meet on January 31, says: “To date there have been no fixed penalty notices issued for breaches of this PSPO. Policy within Kent Police prohibits police officers or PCSOs from issuing fixed penalty notices to any person under the age of 18.
“Thanet council Community Safety Unit take an incremental approach to enforcement meaning other options prior to issue of an FPN for breach of PSPO are explored in the first instance. Thanet council have procedures in place to issue penalty notices on behalf of police/PCSOs.
“However as the establishment of the CSU comprises of three officers and one manager there is future potential risk for a significant abstraction from core duties so this aspect will require regular review.
“ Despite the introduction of the PSPO in July 2018, enforcement activities did not commence until September 2018.”
The effectiveness of the orders will be examined again in March and then September.
What is a PSPO?
The PSPOs prohibit congregating as part of a group of 2 or more for such duration as specified, when directed not to do so by an authorised officer; on the basis that the behaviour is causing or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to others in the locality.
They also prohibit misusing any public space which is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to others and includes a ban on foul or abusive language that it is likely to cause distress and urinating, defecating or spitting in any public place.
During the 2017/18 financial year tactics to combat antisocial behaviour included a large number of police dispersals, the application for three civil injunctions, two Criminal Behaviour Orders, 36 Community Protection Warnings and 8 Community Protection Notices.
Thanet District Council’s Community Safety Team dealt with 239 complaints of ASB within the designated areas and took enforcement action for the misuse of public space on 23 occasions.