Essex council wants to crack down on people having sex, flashing and defecating in public

Braintree Town Centre
Braintree Town Centre -Credit:Essex Chronicle

Powers are set to be introduced to clamp down on people performing sexual acts, flashing and defecating in public spaces in Braintree. The council wants to introduce public space protection orders which allows on-the-spot fines, following ongoing anti-social behaviour issues over the last four years in the town centre.

Reports of drunkenness leading to distress, nuisance, or annoyance, aggressive begging as well as threatening, disorderly, abusive, aggressive and or unacceptable behaviour have been received.

But the council says there have also been reports of people carrying out sexual acts in public view, flashing intimate body parts, urinating and defecating in public view. There has also been verbal and racial abuse and incidents of criminal damage.

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The council says on-going anti-social behaviour issues have been reported by local businesses in Great Square, Bank Street and the Town Hall Centre, along with members of the public and those living in residential properties within the town centre. The council are also experiencing antisocial behaviour issues in Victoria Car Park with inappropriate activation of call points, car nuisance and vandalism, drug dealing, urination and rough sleeping.

Over the course of a 12-month period the Council have spent approximately £30k on remediating these matters at this location alone. Local Authorities were granted powers to introduce a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

PSPOs are intended to deal with a particular nuisance in a defined public space, where the nuisance behaviour is having a negative impact on the quality of life for those in that public space. A PSPO can remain in place for up to three years. Breaking a PSPO may lead to a fixed penalty notice or prosecution.

Before introducing a PSPO local authorities are required to carry out a 28-day consultation. A draft order to be consulted on says: “The council is satisfied that activities have been carried out in the restricted area which have had a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality.

“Further, it is satisfied that the effect of these activities is or is likely to be of a persistent or continuing nature, is or is likely to be such as to make the activities unreasonable and justifies the restrictions imposed by this order.”

The draft order adds that a person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £1,000. The council is discussing the plans on May 20.