Fixed penalty notices for offences like street drinking and begging rise to £100 as Luton town centre protection order expands

Luton Town HallLuton Town Hall
Luton Town Hall
A town centre public spaces protection order (PSPO) for Luton is set to be extended into High Town and South ward from next month.

Under its renewal, the fixed penalty notice fines will be increased from £75 to £100, according to a report to the borough council’s overview and scrutiny board. Individuals can be prosecuted for breaching the terms of the order, said the report.

“Luton’s PSPO covers street drinking, begging, urinating and defecating, spitting, dog fouling and dog control. Dogs must be kept on a lead and be under control in the PSPO zone, with the exception of Manor Road Park.”

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The PSPO was enacted Luton by the local authority in July 2018 and initially renewed in July 2021, explained the report. The current order is due to expire next month, having been reviewed during this time and public consultation held on any proposals to amend the order.

“Its effectiveness was evaluated and consulted on in 2019, which resulted in an amendment of the term begging. The test was met in 2018 about identified activities and behaviour types causing a detrimental effect on the quality of life on anyone in the location.

“Public spaces protection orders were introduced by the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. The order allows local authorities and Bedfordshire Police to prohibit or restrict certain behaviours within an area to tackle anti-social behaviour and help people feel safer.

“Once enacted, the police, as well as police community support officers, and designated council officers can enforce the terms of the PSPO. This is usually by way of a fixed penalty notice, which is currently £75 but reduced to £50 for early payment. That discounted rate will remain, if paid within ten days.

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“Local authorities are obliged to consult with the Chief Constable, the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, the owners or occupiers of land within the affected area where reasonably practicable, and appropriate community representatives.

“Evaluation of its effectiveness started with public consultation between December 11th 2023 and January 14th this year. The current fixed penalty notice rate was included in the consultation, with support for the increase indicated.”

Renewing this order enables the council to evaluate emerging anti-social town centre behaviour issues and review terms to allow robust enforcement action, making people feel safer there, added the report.

“Significant enforcement and supportive interactions have resulted, although PSPOs often seek to address complex issues which require a multi-agency approach.

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“These are only one part of the potential solution to a problem. There’s a strong partnership working ethos in Luton, within which a PSPO needs to be adapted.

“Enforcement of the town centre PSPO doesn’t operate in isolation, but forms part of an integrated approach to unacceptable street culture. This focuses on prevention, support and intervention, and lastly enforcement.

“A detailed impact report shows 82 per cent of local respondents think this should be renewed, as well as the police and the PCC.”

The board backed the three-year town centre PSPO renewal and its extension into High Town and South ward.