Friday 24th January 2020
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08/01/2020 - Views being sought on proposed amendments to Town Centre PSPO

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Luton Council is reviewing its current Town Centre Public Space Protection order (PSPO) and is seeking views on the proposed changes.

The Town Centre PSPO, which was developed following public consultation, came into effect in July 2018. It covers a range of anti-social behaviours including failure; to stop street drinking, to keep dogs on leads and under proper control, to remove dog faeces from public places; and failure to stop begging when asked to do so. It also covers the prohibition of spitting and urinating and defecating in public places.

The impact of the PSPO has been reviewed and two amendments to the current terms are being considered. These include extending the boundaries to the public areas of the Galaxy Centre and to change the provisions concerning begging.

The current PSPO in relation to begging adopts a failure to stop approach which means that a person only breaches the PSPO if they do not stop begging when asked to by an authorised officer. The proposals would allow the council to issue fixed penalty notices to people who are begging, but there will be other options available which include issuing warnings and using restorative justice measures such as referring individuals to support services.

Cllr Aslam Khan, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety, said: “We want Luton’s town centre to be safe and vibrant and for people to be proud to live and work here. Residents have commented on anti-social behaviour in past surveys and the PSPO has been successful in a number of ways in helping reduce this. Since it has come into place though, officers have been issuing requests to stop begging daily which has provided a short term resolution, but not a longer term behaviour change.

“We recognise that enforcement is not a solution in isolation - it runs alongside initiatives to support the individuals in the long term not to engage in begging.  A small number of people who beg are also rough sleeping and there are a number resources and support in place to provide access to accommodation, hot food, and showers all year round for them. Since September 2018, over 200 people have been moved off the street and into accommodation.

“Working together with our partners such as Mary Secole, Signpost​, ResoLUTiONs and NOAH there are also services in place to help with longer term change such as access to drug and alcohol treatment and mental health services.”

Matthew Bushnell of the Homeless Partnership said; “Begging is a complex issue. Someone who begs might not be homeless, but they are a vulnerable person who needs support and help. Enforcement is not the only solution and if we work together we can give the right response so people no longer need to beg.”

To view the proposed changes to the PSPO and complete the survey, visit www.luton.gov.uk/letstalk

The survey ends Wednesday 5 February.
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