MONDAY saw the start of Woking Borough Council’s consultation on introducing a Public Spaces Protection Order to address issues of anti-social behaviour in and around the town centre.
The consultation seeks the views of residents and businesses over plans to address issues relating to alcohol misuse, begging and the consumption of illegal substances as well as legal highs.
A PSPO is a new measure, created by the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, which is intended to deal with any nuisances or problems in a defined area that are detrimental to the local community’s quality of life.
The Order would enable chiefs to impose restrictions in a particular area with the aim of stopping individuals or groups committing antisocial behaviour in public spaces.
Councillor Beryl Hunwicks, Woking’s Portfolio Holder for Community Safety, said the plans have been put forward following a rise in reported unacceptable incidents locally.
She added: “Everyone should be able to enjoy and make use of the public spaces within our borough. Yet recently we have observed an increase in the number of people begging, drinking and abusing harmful or illegal substances in our town centre.
“In some instances, we are aware of some who travel specifically to Woking to beg while they have accommodation elsewhere.
“To help the police and local authority tackle the minority of people who continue to cause nuisance through their antisocial behaviour, the council is proposing a Public Spaces Protection Order.
“Not only would the Order enable the authorities to tackle such issues through the use of enforcement action, it also
allows officers to intervene and signpost people to appropriate services where their needs are genuine.”
Cllr Hunwicks insisted that the Order would not target those who are most in need of support.
“This is not about criminalising rough sleepers or anyone down on their luck – rather about reducing incidents of antisocial behaviour in public spaces, while supporting those in need.
“Therefore, I would encourage people to engage with us and tell us their views on our proposals.”
Discover more about the proposed PSPO and the designated area, and provide feedback by going online now to woking.gov.uk/pspoconsultation.