Council to start enforcing £100 on-the-spot fines for beggars

From Monday, the council will start enforcing a Public Spaces Protection Order, which will see anyone begging in the town centre fined up to £1,000.

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The new Order, often abbreviated to PSPO, came into effect in the town centre’s commercial areas in November, but will start being enforced tomorrow, 29 February.

The PSPO sees £100 on-the-spot fines for those begging introduced.

However, according to the summary document of the public engagement on the PSPO, the Order is “not designed to target vulnerable people but to tackle those that use loopholes in existing legislation to beg ‘professionally’”.

The Order also includes legislation to deal with issues like keeping dogs on leads, aggressive charity collecting and drinking in public. It also prohibits peddling or street trading, marking surfaces without the permission, as well as skateboarding.

Popular poet and Swindon 24 columnist Daniel Rowland, was also banned from chalking his poets onto the pavement – something that is not included in PSPOs in other towns.

Read more: PSPO bans pavement poet from centre yet 68% voted to keep him

The Parade - Dehenhams - H&M
The Parade, Swindon town centre

Officers from Swindon Borough Council, Wiltshire Police and inSwindon have been issuing advice and guidance to members of the public since the order came into effect.

Between 15 December and 31 January, advice and guidance has been given to 269 individuals for a range of offences included in the order: Begging (113), drinking in public (64) and skateboarding in the town centre (53) formed the main breaches of the order.

Individuals were also spoken to about failing to have dogs on leads (15), peddling or street trading (14) and marking surfaces without the permission of the council (10).

From Monday, officers from Swindon Borough Council, Wiltshire Police and inSwindon will enforce the order. Anyone caught breaching the order will be advised to stop their activity and, if they fail to do so, a fixed penalty notice will be issued.

The penalty is set at £100 and, if not paid, could result in court fines up to £1,000.

Wharf Green, Swindon town centre
Wharf Green, Swindon town centre

Inspector Steve McGrath of Wiltshire Police, said: “The PSPO is an example of the Community Safety Partnership listening and responding to the views of the people of Swindon and the things that matter to them.

The order is a tool to manage any of these issues and its introduction should help make Swindon a better place in which to live and work.”

Cllr Emma Faramarzi, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, said: “We want people to enjoy coming to the town centre and to not be put off by those people who think they can spoil it for the majority. The PSPO has been introduced to encourage people to change their behaviour and to be proud of their local communities.

“We have engaged with the public on this order for a number of months now and have given out leaflets and offered advice to people about what kind of behaviour we expect to see in our town centre. Now is the time to see that acceptable behaviour put into action for the benefit of local businesses and shoppers.”

A copy of the PSPO and the results of the public engagement exercise can be found on the Community Safety Partnership website: www.swindon-csp.org.uk.