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Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

To help tackle anti-social behaviour (ASB), we plan to introduce a series of PSPOs in the city centre. If successful we may extend them to areas adjoining the city centre and to Woodfield Street in Morriston.

Background

Our plan was widely supported in a formal public consultation process. After that we worked on how the orders should be introduced and managed. A trial scheme is due start in the city centre soon. 

ASB exists in Swansea, as it does in most UK towns and cities. We hope our orders will help reduce it whilst we continue to treat vulnerable people with sensitivity. We work closely with outreach services and South Wales Police.

To help us in this process, we studied how other Welsh PSPOs operate, with locations including Monmouthshire, Wrexham and Newport. 

Enforcement is the last resort, following engagement and education. We continue to liaise closely with our partners to ensure that vulnerable people are treated fairly and are supported. The PSPO supplements existing police powers.

Where it is reasonable and justified, Swansea's order allows us to issue fixed penalty notices (FPNs) to tackle negative behaviour such as:

  • on-street defecating or urinating
  • consumption of alcohol away from a licensed premises (outdoor seating areas will still be able to serve drink)
  • consumption of psychoactive substances also known as legal highs
  • consumption of controlled substances
  • begging
  • ASB - eg persistent and excessive swearing, aggression, youth annoyance and intimidating behaviour

Under the scheme access is restricted to two specific sites located on the outskirts of the city centre. One is a service lane at the bottom of St Helen's Road; the other is a tunnel that runs between The Strand and High Street. The latter is closed initially for building works. 

It is hoped that these measures will help make the city centre a better place. We'll closely monitor their impact. 

 

Locations and details of Swansea's PSPOs

  1. City centre
    This PSPO will cover all streets within the traditional shopping area currently patrolled by the city centre rangers plus the footprint of the new arena development and coastal park.
    Map of city centre PSPO [1MB]
    City centre PSPO sign [247KB]
     
  2. Ty-Nant and Jockey Street tunnels (High Street)
    Ty-Nant Tunnel is closed - initially as part of safety measures for local building work. The alternative route via Jockey Street will be upgraded as part of the PSPO proposals.
    Map of Ty-Nant and Jockey Street tunnels [1MB]
     
  3. Service lane off St Helens Road
    The lane services a number of commercial and residential properties that will retain access to the lane. It will be gated with restricted access and is being drafted now; the plan is to launch it in 2022.
    Map of planned PSPO location off St Helens Road [1MB]

 

Frequently asked questions

How much of a problem is anti-social behaviour in Swansea?

Put simply, the feedback from consultation shows people are fed up with anti-social behaviour (ASB). People who responded to our consultation said they are being put off going to some areas of Swansea because of it.

Our PSPOs will increase the powers of the council - with the support of the police - to respond to their concerns about drinking, on-street drugs and other similar problems. In a typical year, there are hundreds of complaints to us about city centre ASB.

The police reported more than 1,100 ASB and alcohol-related crimes in the city centre in the 12 months to June 2020. This shows that there is a problem which we believe can be appropriately addressed through PSPOs.

What is a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO)?

A PSPO gives the council - supported by the 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 and when will Swansea's PSPOs be put in place?

This will happen on a phased basis, starting with the city centre and beginning soon with a process of explaining to the public what the PSPO means to them.

Then - only after this initial information process - will we start to enforce the order. It will be targeted towards certain types of behaviour as opposed to certain people. 

The city centre's order will be enforced by the city centre rangers. They are being trained for the task and have the support of the police. A breach of the PSPO is a criminal offence and can be dealt with through the issuing of a fixed penalty notice (FPM) of £75 or a fine of up to £1,000 on prosecution. In all cases a verbal and written warning will be issued in the first instance. 

In due course we'll consider how best to extend the order to other areas identified during the consultation. These include upper High Street, SA1, Swansea beach and Woodfield Street in Morriston.

As part of development works, the tunnel between The Strand and High Street will be closed to the public and a PSPO order will restrict access to the service lane at the bottom of St Helen's Road.

How long will Swansea's PSPOs remain in place?

PSPOs cover a period of up to three years. After this they must be reviewed and, if necessary, renewed. We'll regularly review our orders to ensure that they're being effective and working in line with the public's wishes.

Why did you consult on introducing PSPOs?

A formal consultation process took place for just over six weeks until early 2021. We wanted to find out what people thought about the idea.

Before a PSPO can be introduced residents, businesses, shoppers and others must have the chance to give their views. We already knew there was strong support for this action from the police and businesses concerned about the impact on trade from ASB. We also knew that residents, visitors, shop workers and others were worried - and felt intimidated by - the kind of ASB that included drinking and drug taking in the street, toileting and littering of drug paraphernalia.

Our consultation feedback indicated widespread support for the PSPO across several areas in Swansea. We'll trial it in the city centre to test how effective it is in tackling ASB.

What areas will it cover?

These will be: the city centre; the Ty Nant tunnel between High Street and The Strand (if required following completion of the development works); the service lane at the bottom of St Helen's Road.

What about the homeless and other vulnerable people?

PSPOs are aimed at tackling anti-social behaviour - we want to stress they're not aimed at homeless people who often have complex problems and deserve our support to help them manage their lives. Alongside our partners in homeless and rough sleeper charities, the council puts a great deal of resource into supporting the homeless, with medical and social care as well as finding them a place to live. We have made a commitment that there will always be a bed in Swansea for those homeless people who want one.

We work closely with outreach providers including the likes of The Wallich, Barod, Dyfodol, Shelter Cymru and Crisis to ensure that those who are most vulnerable in society are helped. They are aware the PSPO is being launched and will play a role coordinating activities through one of our established forums that looks at street vulnerability.

Whilst planning the PSPOs there was ongoing dialogue with our partners and we listened to people's concerns during the consultation. This information helped us shape the way in which the PSPOs look and how they will be managed on the ground. For example, staff receive specialist vulnerability training and explain to people where they can get help for issues they may be experiencing. Housing officers and outreach services will work closely with the team to engage with those who require extra support.

Won't this just move the problem somewhere else?

PSPOs are designed to tackle ASB and prevent its spread to other places. However, displacement is possible - and this will be assessed in our regular reviews of the new scheme. In Swansea's case, the planned PSPOs aim to target specific areas where there have been longstanding issues. The geographical spread of the PSPOs is 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 businesses directly and leaves customers or staff intimidated or discouraged from using local shops, pubs or restaurants. We've talked with businesses operating in some affected areas. The city centre's Business Improvement District (BID) is supportive of our PSPOs, as are others.

Why is a PSPO limited to just the city centre?

We know from the consultation that people in Morriston, Swansea Marina, SA1 and upper High Street are keen to have a PSPO. Before we look at such areas, however, we want to understand the impact of the city centre PSPO and ensure it reduces ASB whilst supporting the vulnerable.

What is the problem with the Ty Nant tunnel?

It's a focus for anti-social behaviour. 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. The tunnel will be blocked off as a result of development works and the PSPO will give the council - supported by the police - more powers to move people on from the area, confiscate alcohol and issue fixed penalty notices. 

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 will there be a PSPO for the service lane at the bottom of St Helen's Road?

Known locally as Spar Lane, this is a fly-tipping hotspot. It's unsightly, a fire risk and a health hazard. The PSPO 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?

The city centre PSPO will be implemented on the street by the council's city centre rangers who patrol the area and have had specialist training. Enforcement will be a last resort. However, ASB will not be tolerated and the rangers have the support of the police where more assertive action may be required.

What will be included in Swansea's PSPOs?

A balance will be struck between what residents and businesses want in order to feel safer whilst also 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 will supplement and help address any gaps in the current rules and regulations - such as existing police powers and local by-laws that already cover acts such as littering and dog fouling. 

The council is spearheading these proposals to help tackle anti-social behaviour at a local level. They will complement the well established multi-agency approach for those who are vulnerable and need extra support.

 

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 have acted in an anti-social manner. This restriction will mean that alcohol consumption must be contained within the boundaries of licensed premises only (including the designated outdoor café areas). It will provide powers for alcohol to be confiscated by designated officers as a proactive measure to help prevent the behaviour escalating. Failure to surrender may result in a fixed penalty notice (FPN) of £75 being issued.

No begging

Beggars often need long-term help and support. Measures are in place locally to help those 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 and professional beggars who mislead the public as to their intent. Begging is illegal. However, in order for action to be taken it must be witnessed by an officer and the person begging must be seen actively to doing so. For these reasons begging is difficult to address particularly when beggars adopt a more passive or even covert approach.

No consumption of controlled substances and psychoactive substances/legal highs

As in other UK towns and cities, there are numerous reports of intravenous drug use taking place openly on the street as well as the smoking or snorting of drugs and the consumption of psychoactive substances known as legal highs which can be damaging. The number of syringes and drug paraphernalia being collected is 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 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 at night public urinals are deployed at key times to provide alternative additional facilities. However, urination in public continues to be a problem; it causes issues for the council's cleansing teams and businesses.

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. 

General ASB

Whilst the restrictions above are specific, the PSPO also allows for any ASB that causes harassment, alarm or distress to be tackled. Persistent and excessive swearing, youth annoyance and aggressive or intimidating behaviour are among the negative behaviours that could result in a warning or even a FPN.

Restricted access to public lanes and footpaths

Access will be restricted to two specific sites located on the outskirts of the city centre. 

One is a service lane at the bottom of St Helen's Road. This has been subject to longstanding fly-tipping which cause issues with rats and other pests. It's planned that a system of controlled access be installed for only the businesses and residents who need access. 

Due to recurring 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. This will be gated, initially as a safety measure for local building works. Measures will 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.

 

More information

Any queries can be emailed to PSPO.consultation@swansea.gov.uk.