Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
To help tackle anti-social behaviour, we are proposing to introduce a series of PSPOs in the city centre and in and around Woodfield Street, Morriston.
These proposals have been subject to a formal consultation process which recently concluded. The results are now in the process of being assessed to determine whether we proceed and how the Orders could be managed.
- City centre
The proposed city centre PSPO will cover all of the streets within the traditional shopping areas plus several adjoining areas. This will include all of High Street and adjoining streets as far as Dyfatty lights, most of the SA1 waterfront area and the beachfront to the Civic Centre.
The proposed Morriston PSPO area will focus on Woodfield Street but take in the main streets in and around this area which forms the centre of Morriston's commercial district.
- Ty-Nant and Jockey Street tunnels (High Street)
Ty-Nant Tunnel is the longer and more troublesome route between High Street and The Strand and the alternative route via Jockey Street which will be upgraded as part of these proposals.
- Service lane off St Helens Road
The lane services a number of commercial and residential properties who will be given access to the lane.
How much of a problem is anti-social behaviour in Swansea?
Put simply, people are fed up with anti-social behaviour. They are being put off going to some areas of Swansea because of it. A PSPO will increase the powers of the council and the police to respond to their concerns about drinking, on-street drugs and other similar problems.
For example there were 493 complaints to our city centre rangers about anti-social behaviour in the city centre between July and September this year alone. The police reported more than 1,100 anti-social behaviour and alcohol-related crimes in the city centre and marina area in the 12 months to June 2020.
There are similar issues in Woodfield Street, Morriston, and the area at the top of the High Street. People want action.
What is a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO)?
A Public Space Protection Order, or PSPO for short, gives the council and police extra powers to deal with anti-social behaviour on our streets such as drinking, begging, drug-taking and other behaviour where it is having a negative effect on an area . It means we can confiscate alcohol from people drinking on the streets, issue fixed penalty notices for anti-social behaviour and take other proactive action to tackle the problem.
How is a PSPO put in place?
The exact details of a PSPO are defined by local councils. They can involve blanket restrictions, or they can be targeted towards certain groups or types of behaviour and/or at certain times of the day. They can also be used to restrict access to public spaces where that route is being used to commit anti-social behaviour.
Orders can be enforced by a police officer, police community support officer and delegated council officers. A breach of the PSPO is a criminal offence and can be dealt with through the issuing of a Fixed Penalty Notice of up to £100, or a fine of up to £1,000 on prosecution.
PSPOs cover a period of up to 3 years after which they must be renewed.
Why have you been consulting on introducing PSPOs?
A formal consultation process took place for just over 6 week during December 2020 up until 25 January 2021 because we needed to find out what people think about the idea. Before a PSPO can be introduced residents, businesses, shoppers and others have to have the chance to give their views.
We already knew there is good support for this action from the police and businesses concerned about the impact on trade from anti-social behaviour. We also knew from the figures that residents, visitors, shop workers and others are continually worried and feel intimidated by the kind of anti-social behaviour that includes drinking and drug taking in the street, toileting and littering of drug paraphernalia.
However, now that the consultation has ended, the feedback will tell us more as to whether there is widespread support for the scheme and what are people's greatest concerns.
If approved, what areas will it cover?
There are 4 key areas being considered for a PSPO:
- City centre (including SA1/ marina, Swansea Beachfront and the top of High Street)
- Morriston district centre (mainly in and around Woodfield Street)
- Ty Nant tunnel
- The service lane at the bottom of St Helen's Road.
Please take a look at the maps above.
What about the homeless and other vulnerable people?
PSPOs are aimed at tackling anti-social behaviour. They are not aimed at homeless people who often have complex problems and deserve our support to help them manage their lives. This year the council has spent £5.6m on supporting the homeless with medical and social care as well as finding them a place to live. We are investing around £1m to increase the number of one-bedroom flats we own so there are more permanent homes available to those who need them most.
The council works closely with outreach providers including the likes of Shelter and Crisis to ensure that those who are most vulnerable in society are helped. Over the last couple of weeks there has been ongoing dialogue with our partners which will be used to help shape the way in which the PSPOs will look and how they will be managed on the ground.
Won't this just move the problem somewhere else?
PSPOs are designed to tackle anti-social behaviour and prevent its spread to other places, however displacement is possible.
In Swansea's case, the proposed PSPOs are aiming to target specific areas where there have been longstanding issues. The geographical spread of the planned PSPOs is also expansive which will discourage people from going elsewhere.
What do local businesses think?
Businesses, like their staff, residents and visitors alike, want to see a safer Swansea. They are fed up with anti-social behaviour which blights some of their businesses directly but also leaves customers or staff intimidated or discouraged from using their shops, pubs or restaurants. We have sounded-out businesses operating in some of the affected areas. The city centre's Business Improvement District (BID) is supportive in principle, as are others.
Why is a PSPO being considered for Woodfield Street, Morriston?
Woodfield Street in Morriston is the area's main shopping street and in the year to June, 2020, police reported 175 criminal incidents and 304 non-crime incidents in the area. Local businesses and other organisations are concerned about growing levels of anti-social behaviour in the area, particularly at a time when they and others are trying to invest in the area. A PSPO would increase council and police powers to help deal with on-street drinking, drugs, and begging in the area.
Why is a PSPO being considered for the Marina area?
A PSPO for the marina and SA1 area is in response to growing concerns about people congregating in the area to drink outside. In the year to June, 2020, there were 426 alcohol-related crimes in the marina area and 149 of these were for public order offences.
There have increased instances of people socialising in large groups here which have got worse with the recent COVID-19 restrictions. Local residents feel intimidated and have complained to the council and police.
What is the problem with the Ty Nant tunnel?
Anyone familiar with the Ty Nant tunnel will know it is the centre of anti-social behaviour in the area. There have been incidents of assault, drug use, robbery, theft, sex working and criminal damage. Our cleaners who regularly visit the area to deal with drugs related litter and other waste are often the targets for abuse. A PSPO will block off the tunnel and also give the police and council more powers to move people on from the area, confiscate alcohol and issue fixed penalty notices.
As part of the plans the alternative route between High Street and The Strand off Jockey Street will be upgraded to make it a more pleasant place to walk.
Why is there going to be a PSPO for the service lane at the bottom of St Helen's Road?
The service lane, known locally as Spar Lane is a fly-tipping hotspot. It is not just unsightly, it is a fire risk for nearby businesses and a health hazard. We will put a stop to it by applying a PSPO which will allow us to install a gate to prevent access for fly-tipping.
Business and residents who need access to the area will still be able to do but this will be limited to only them.
How will PSPOs be enforced?
PSPOs will be enforced by South Wales Police as well as council officers who have had specialist training. While much of the work of the council and police will continue to be actions to discourage anti-social behaviour as well as to support those who are vulnerable who need extra support, PSPOs considerably strengthen their on-street powers to tackle those people who won't listen.
What happens next?
Now that the consultation process has concluded, the surveys and feedback from partners the survey will be analysed and used to help decide if and what PSPOs go ahead and exactly how they will be used.
Subject to the outcome of the consultation, the PSPOs could be implemented as soon as the end of March 2021.
What could be included in a PSPO for the city centre and Morriston?
Initial discussions have been taking place over the previous months with community and business representatives and South Wales Police to explore what could be included in the PSPOs. A formal consultation process has also taken place during December 2020 until the end of January 2021 and those with an interest were urged to have their say.
A balance needs to be struck between what residents and businesses want in order to feel safer and happy in their respective communities, whilst at the same time allowing people to enjoy what the areas have to offer. This is particularly relevant to the city centre's vibrant evening and night time economy.
The PSPOs, which must be enforceable, will supplement and help address any gaps in the current rules and regulations that apply on a local and national level, eg police powers and local byelaws which already cover littering and dog fouling across Swansea.
The council is spearheading these proposals to help tackle anti-social behaviour at a local level and to complement the already well established and outreach led multi-agency approach for those who are vulnerable and need extra support.
Possible new restrictions
- No on-street alcohol consumption outdoors
Issues have been identified with people arriving, walking around and gathering in groups in public places drinking from open containers of alcohol. People under the influence of alcohol on streets, pavements, beach and waterfront locations have acted in an anti-social manner.
This restriction would mean that alcohol consumption would be contained within the boundaries of licensed premises only. It will also provide powers for alcohol to be confiscated by designated officers.
- No begging
Beggars often need long term help and support and measures are in place locally to help those among them who have been identified as being vulnerable.
Nevertheless begging can be intimidating to the public and it creates a poor impression of an area.
There is evidence of aggressive begging taking place as well as professional beggars who are misleading the public as to their intent.
Begging is illegal however in order for action to be taken it must be witnessed by a Police Officer and the person begging must be seen actively to doing so. For these reasons begging is incredibly difficult to address particularly when beggars adopt a more passive or even covert approach.
- No consumption of controlled substances and legal highs
There are numerous reports of intravenous drug use taking place openly on the street as well as the smoking or snorting of drugs as well as legal highs which can be equally damaging. The amount of syringes and drug paraphernalia being collected is also on the rise.
Individuals under the influence of drugs and other substances can be aggressive and intimidating to the public. They can also be a danger to themselves.
As is the case with begging, the council works closely with several drug support agencies who provide a broad range of support services to those who are drug dependent.
- No urination or defecation in public
Complaints have been received about instances of toileting openly taking place in view of the public. Public urination is also an issue pertinent particularly to the evening and night time economy.
In the city centre public urinals provide alternative additional facilities however urination continues to be a major problem. This causes issues for both the council's cleaning teams as well as businesses who have to deal with the aftermath.
There is ample access to public toilet facilities across in the city centre including those that are run by the council as well as several within shops and commercial premises. Equally, public toilets are located on Woodfield Street Morriston.
- Restricted access to public lanes and footpaths
It is proposed that access will be restricted under a PSPO to two specific sites located on the outskirts of the city centre.
The first is a service lane located at the bottom of St Helens Road which has been subject to longstanding fly-tipping which cause issues with rats and other pests. It is proposed that a system of controlled access be installed for only the commercial premises and residents who require legitimate access.
Due to reoccurring issues of crime including drug related anti-social behaviour, public urination / defecation, fighting and prostitution, the second site is the Ty-Nant Tunnel that runs between High Street and The Strand which is proposed to be gated. As part of this work, measures will also be taken to upgrade the Jockey Street Tunnel to provide an alternative access route for pedestrians travelling between the areas.
Controlling access to these locations will mitigate the issues and enable the council and its partners to reallocate resources, for example, to provide additional support to those affected by these measures.
How can I find out more?
Any queries can be emailed to PSPO.email@example.com.