We want to know what you think about proposals to introduce a PSPO for sexual health and reproductive health clinics in Lambeth to protect women and girls accessing services
Due to a printing error relating to letters people received, we have extended the deadline to Wednesday 28 February 2018.
Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO)
For several years, groups of people and individuals have harassed and intimidated women and girls accessing sexual health and reproductive health services in Lambeth, targeting those seeking legal abortions. Staff working at these centres have also been targeted. Although not criminal, we believe this anti-social behaviour causes distress and suffering to women and girls accessing health care services in Lambeth.
The Anti-social Behaviour (ASB), Crime and Policing Act 2014 put victims of ASB at the centre by focusing on the impact behaviour can have on both communities and individuals, particularly vulnerable people. It introduced a number of new tools to enable councils to address anti-social behaviour (ASB) in their areas, including using public spaces protection orders (or PSPOs).
PSPOs enable councils to prohibit specific activities, and/or require certain things to be done by people engaged in those activities, within a defined public area. Breaching a PSPO without a reasonable excuse is an offence.
Orders can only be introduced where a local authority is satisfied on reasonable grounds that:
- activities that have taken place have had a detrimental effect on the quality of those in the locality (or it is likely that activities will take place and have such an effect)
- the effect or likely effect of these activities:
- is, or is likely to be, persistent in nature and continuing
- is, or is likely to be, unreasonable
- justifies the restrictions being imposed
With the adoption of these powers, and the use of PSPOs to tackle existing issues elsewhere in the borough; such as legal highs and street gambling, we feel that these powers are appropriate for tackling the anti-social behaviour outlined in evidence pack 1, evidence pack 2 and evidence pack 3. We asked our service providers to gather evidence on the nature, frequency and impact of this behaviour before deciding whether or not to develop a PSPO to address this issue.
Our assessment of the problem
British Pregnancy Advice Service (BPAS) and Marie Stopes clinic provided evidence of the anti-social behaviour suffered by service users and staff. This can be seen in Evidence pack 1. We believe this is clearly anti-social and causes distress to women and girls going to the clinic, as well as staff.
To help us fully understand the nature of this issue and the ‘unreasonableness’ of the activity, before deciding whether or not develop a draft PSPO and assess this evidence (including the material used by anti-abortion campaigners), we have also sought the views of local professionals (CCG Chair (GP), Director of Public Health, Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime).
The “Back-Off” campaign mentioned in evidence 1 pack is co-ordinated by BPAS and has a wide range of support from organisations including the End Violence Against Women Coalition, the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Midwives, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and Rape Crisis England and Wales.
We have also considered the potential impact of any PSPO to tackle this issue on specific sections of the community in order to comply with the public-sector equality duty under the Equality Act 2010. Our draft impact assessment is a working document which will be updated throughout the consultation, until we reach a decision.
Based upon the evidence, and the powers available to us, we believe that there is sufficient evidence to consult widely on a draft PSPO for the following sexual reproductive health clinics in the Borough:
- British Pregnancy Advice Service, Streatham
- Marie Stopes Clinic, South London Brixton
- what the detrimental activities are
- what is being prohibited and/or required, including any exemptions
- the area covered (Please see draft PSPO below)
- the consequences for breach
- the period for which it has effect
In summary, our draft PSPO:
Prohibits behaviour that intimidates or seeks to dissuade service users from accessing health services in Lambeth or otherwise causes, or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to such persons. This includes but is not limited to signs, speeches, leaflets, chanting and throwing of water on service users and staff; and
Prohibits the distribution of leaflets and other materials, and speeches, that seek to dissuade service users from accessing services by relaying false information on abortion or otherwise causes, or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to such persons.
The maps show where this activity is prohibited around/adjacent to:
What happens next?
We will consider all the responses we receive before deciding whether or not to approve a PSPO. If approved a PSPO can last for up to three years, after which it must be reviewed.