Wycombe District Council used ASBO-style orders aimed at tackling nuisance behaviour on just one occasion last year, figures reveal.

The council issued one fine for violating a Public Spaces Protection Order in 2019, according to Freedom of Information requests submitted by the campaign group the Manifesto Club.

A council can issue PSPOs to ban activities it judges have had, or will have, a “detrimental” effect on the quality of life of people in the area.


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The reason given for the penalty was breaching an alcohol PSPO.

Across England and Wales, councils gave out 10,413 PSPOs in 2019, up from 9,930 a year earlier.

Director of the Manifesto Club Josie Appleton said the test for what constitutes detrimental behaviour was “unprecedentedly low” for criminal intervention, and that the powers were hard to appeal.

She added: “These blank-cheque busybody powers are the cause of immense injustice, and a fundamental threat to our freedoms. They should be removed from the statute book.”

The use of the powers was very unevenly spread between areas – while Peterborough City Council dispensed the most fines recorded for breaking PSPOs (3,772), almost 150 said they made no use of the order.

PSPOs and Community Protection Notices, which can place restrictions on individuals, were introduced by the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

The Local Government Association defended their use as “one of a number of ways councils can tackle persistent anti-social behaviour problems raised by local communities”.

Nesil Caliskan, chairman of the LGA’s safer and stronger communities board, said: “PSPOs and CPNs will not be suitable or effective in all circumstances, and councils will consider other approaches which may better resolve the anti-social behaviour identified.

“As with other council services, PSPOs are subject to scrutiny by democratically elected councillors, and councils must consult with community representatives under the legislation, along with the police before implementing them.”