Public Spaces Protection Orders
Public Spaces Protection Orders were introduced by the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. They are designed to restrict behaviours in a designated location that have, or are likely to have, an adverse impact on a person’s quality of life in the area. Evidence gathered so far about quality of life issues associated with Oxford’s waterways suggests that a PSPO may be suitable.
A PSPO is similar to a local byelaw. For example, the City Council’s 1996 Parks Byelaw ensures our parks are clean, well maintained and safe.
Both the River Thames and the Oxford Canal have byelaws that govern how people use the water or riverbanks. The byelaws limit the speed of vessels, the side vessels should pass, the use of vehicles on the paths and many other issues related to the use and management of the waterways. A breach of the byelaw can result in a criminal prosecution and a fine; similarly a breach of a PSPO can lead to prosecution or a fixed penalty notice.
The Environment Agency and Canal and Rivers Trust
The Environment Agency and Canal and Rivers Trust, the two organisations responsible for the management of Oxford’s waterways, have the power to address some of the points raised in the draft Order through existing byelaws and boat licence conditions. The PSPO provides an alternative legal remedy.
Other proposed restrictions in the Waterways PSPO are updated versions of existing byelaw restrictions that would be made available to Council and police officers. Breaches of a byelaw require a criminal prosecution in the Magistrates' Court; a PSPO allows a fixed penalty notice option that would not result in someone being dealt with in court.
Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equalities Act 2010
The City Executive Board must consider the human rights and equalities implications of introducing a waterways PSPO. This will include an assessment of all the protective factors listed in the Equalities Act 2010.