New powers to improve area where people are 'driven to desperation'

New powers are to be granted to police to crackdown on anti-social behaviour driving unhappy residents to “desperation.”

Liverpool Council has signed off on the adoption of a public space protection order (PSPO) around Smithdown Road and Toxteth Cemetery in a bid to stamp out issues blighting the community. The three-year order will give Merseyside Police and the city council greater strength to break up problem groups as well as prohibiting loud noise and disruption after a certain time.

The measures have been introduced as city council officials admitted previous attempts to bring about cohesion were “not working.” One resident told a Town Hall committee that on one occasion they had been attacked with fireworks near their home.

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Despite resources being invested into the area by the city and partners including Merseyside Police, residents have spoken of their frustration at ongoing issues. A student who had been housed in the area during their studies described living in the community as “the worst experience of my life.”

A council can make a PSPO if it believes activities in a public place within the authority's area have had a “detrimental effect on the quality of life.” Once an order is made, the police, police community support officers and others authorised by Liverpool Council would have powers to issue fixed penalty notices for such breaches.

The new three-year measure will prevent creating noise using a vehicle, including revving engines or loud music, within the designated area. The document will also ban “being part of a group or gathering of six or more persons together creating noise loud enough to cause, or be likely to cause, nuisance or annoyance to another person between the hours of 10pm and 7am.”

People thought to have been involved in disruptive behaviour could face a ban of up to 24 hours from the area, with alcohol consumption within the boundaries also not permitted.

Jo Williams, Liverpool Council community co-ordinator, told the highways and committee, the area is “densely populated” with large groups reported to be congregating late at night, including children as young as 10 who have been handed behaviour order contracts in a bid to curb their behaviour. Ms Williams said despite considerable interventions over the years “it’s not working.”

Ms Williams said she expected the measures to be “very welcomed” and said while this may impact some in the community, this did not outweigh the need to restore quality of life for others. She said residents were “frustrated and not reporting” issues any more as a result.

The officer warned however things would not immediately change overnight, nor was the measure a “magic wand.” She added how the council did not want to be handing out “hundreds of fixed penalty notices” and would seek to work with the community.

The committee heard from one resident who became visibly emotional during their testimony. They said: “People don’t listen. We’re abused, bullied every single day, spat at and threatened. I do everything I can to report everything but I’m abused for it.

“We’re on the brink of moving."

The resident said they had experienced “excessive noise” and required protective covers on their windows to keep it out. They said they had been attacked with fireworks and “ganged up on” when they had challenged anti-social behaviour.

“It’s constant, I’m desperate for some quality of life again. “It’s excessive to the point where it drives you to desperation.”

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