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Plans to curb anti social behaviour in Gateshead going 'live'

Posted on Monday 27 February 2017

New powers to tackle dog fouling and overly persistent street charity collectors come into force in Gateshead this week in an effort to cut down on anti-social behaviour in public places.

Complaints from Gateshead residents about people not clearing up after their dogs, organisations touting for business in the town centre, people drinking in the street and charity collectors being too persistent, have prompted Gateshead Council to authorise Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) which come into force on Wednesday, 1 March.

PSPOs give local authorities powers to deal with people committing anti-social behaviour in public spaces, which has a negative effect on the local community.

And the council has authorised the introduction of three orders.

The first is for the whole of Gateshead and says that anyone walking a dog must have the means to clear up after it and deposit the bag in bins, or take it home. It would also give the police powers to seize alcohol from anyone drinking and causing disorder in a public place.

The second covers Gateshead Town Centre and is aimed at organisations and charities which are overly persistent in approaching people in the street. It also covers people drinking in the street, begging and urinating in a public place.

The third is for the MetroCentre Retail Park and covers people driving in an antisocial manner, racing,  taking up parking spaces meant for shoppers by attending unauthorised car rallies, driving dangerously  and spinning wheels, otherwise known as ‘burn outs’. 

Breaching Public Space Protection Orders will result in a Fixed Penalty Notice of up to £100, or prosecution resulting in a fine of up to £1,000 if convicted.

Councillor Linda Green, Cabinet Member for Communities and Volunteering, which covers Community Safety said: “We want people to enjoy coming to the town centre and not be put off by those people who spoil it for the majority. We are introducing PSPOs to encourage people to change their behaviour and have some pride in their local community.

“We know that dog fouling is a persistent problem across the borough and we’ve discovered that it’s actually the single biggest cause for concern for Gateshead residents. Hopefully, PSPOs will be one way forward in tackling this antisocial behaviour from some dog owners”.

She added: “It’s not currently proposed that we take steps against a polite approach from salespeople and charity collectors, but if people are obstructed or harassed in any way, we would encourage them to report the incident to us so we can take action.”

An example of collectors or sales people acting in a challenging way would be if they continued to try to talk to you, or persuade you to stop, even when you had made it clear you were not interested. Obstructing you physically, such as blocking your path, would also be a breach of the order.

Signs have been erected in the town centre, alerting people to the PSPOs and what they cover and enforcement action may take the form of plain clothed patrols.

The council is also working on ways for members of the public to report any breaches of the order and will rely on information from the public as, with limited resources, the capacity to patrol areas is limited. These may involve immediate reporting methods for smartphones, or forms for residents to submit via the council website.

 Northumbria Police Chief Inspector Karl Wilson said: "We work closely with Gateshead Council to try and make the area a safe and enjoyable place for people to live and spend time and the introduction of the PSPOs will help make a positive difference to local peoples' quality of life.

 "We already do a lot of work to tackle anti-social behaviour across the borough, however, we are always looking at new and innovative ways to help improve our communities and these new measures could really help."