Fewer illegal camps have been set up in Brighton and Hove’s parks in the two years since public space protection orders (PSPOs) were brought in.
Figures in a report to a Brighton and Hove City Council committee suggest that the number of unauthorised camps on protected land have fallen by two thirds since 2017.
The report, to the council’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee, quoted Brighton Rugby Club, based at Waterhall, as supporting PSPOs.
The club said: “The order has been revolutionary for us. There have been no instances of ASB (anti-social behaviour) since the order was in place and we have not changed any security measures to effect this.
“We can provide a community sport without damages, intimidation, and rubbish clear ups. We have found the whole experience much improved.”
PSPOs are designed to be used when there is a particular nuisance or problem in an area which is affecting the community’s quality of life. Government guidance says that they should not be used to target the homeless.
They came into force in April 2017 after people reported areas were “blighted” by anti-social behaviour in parks and open spaces.
During 2017 more people were sleeping in tents. Rough sleeping services, the council and police worked to move people into some form of housing or to reconnect them with support in their home area.
The Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee is being asked to decide next week whether it wants more information before deciding whether PSPOs should be kept in the current form or changed.
One alternative could be for the council to apply to the High Court for a city-wide preventative injunction requiring police enforcement action.
Locally PSPOs say that people cannot driving on the grass in a number of named protected places – or litter, light a fire or occupy a tent or caravan.
Breaching a PSPO is a criminal offence subject to a fixed penalty notice of £75.
Five fixed penalty notices have been issued since the orders came into place.
Three of them were issued last year – to a traveller and two van dwellers – and two have been issued this year, both to van dwellers.
Fewer fires have been reported on the seafront and in parks for a number of reasons, including more patrols by field officers and police, the report said.
The areas covered by the order where there was “substantial evidence” of anti-social behaviour are
- The Greenway in the New England Quarter
- Hollingbury Park
- Lawn Memorial Cemetary and neighbouring land in Woodingdean
- Preston Park
- Rottingdean Recreation Ground
- The seafront including the A259 from Black Rock to Hove Lagoon
- Sheepcote Valley and East Brighton Park
- St Helen’s Green in Hangleton
- Stanmer Park
- Surrenden Field
- Wild Park
No offenders have been taken to court and, the report said, the number of illegal camps in areas not covered by PSPOs has gone down from 17 in 2016 to nine this year.
Local action teams (LATs) have backed the orders but Friends, Families and Travellers has written to the council asking it to consider withdrawing the orders.
The Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee is due to meet on Thursday (21 November). The meeting is scheduled to start at 4pm and should be open to the public.