Have your say on the extension of Lambeth’s Street Gaming and Street Gambling Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), which expires on 10 October 2019. Tell us your views by completing our survey. The consultation runs from 22 July to 1 September 2019.
There are persistent and unreasonable issues of street gaming and gambling on South Bank, and specifically around Westminster Bridge. This has a negative impact on those who live, work and visit the area, due to the anti-social behaviour that it causes.
The current PSPO was put in place for a 3 year period and expires on 10 October 2019. At any point before the expiry of the PSPO for street gambling and gaming 2016, the Council can extend it by up to three years (s.60 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014), If it is considered necessary to prevent the occurrence or recurrence of the activities identified in the order, or an increase in the frequency or seriousness of those activities. We are now consulting to extend the PSPO for a further 3 years.
What about the existing PSPO?
Our existing Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) was authorised by Cabinet in 2016 and targets anti-social behaviour (ASB) associated with street gaming and street gambling on the South Bank, specifically around Westminster Bridge. That Order was made for three years and ends on 10 October 2019.
The existing order is in place to prohibit people from engaging in street gambling or street gaming and applies to an area that extends along the Lambeth side of Westminster Bridge and an area surrounding the approach to the Bridge on the Lambeth side.
Please see the existing street gaming PSPO signage which shows the area the order covers and the prohibition explanations.
Currently, legislation classifies the following offences; ‘provision of gambling facilities’ and ‘cheating, attempting to cheat, or assisting another person to cheat at gambling’ under the Gambling Act 2005. However, these offences are difficult to prove and as such, the associated anti-social behaviour (ASB) goes unenforced. Lambeth has continued to witness significant associated ASB and our PSPO aims to deal with them, this ASB includes:
- Large groups blocking the bridge
- Pedestrians being forced into the road to avoid games and the crowds it attracts
- Offenders harassing passers-by, touching members of the public, and encouraging them to play
- People refusing to hand over money being verbally abused and threatened with physical violence
- Attracting other unlawful activity to the bridge, including unlicensed street performers and vendors
Lambeth Council has issued over 290 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN'S) to offenders who have breached this PSPO since the beginning of February 2019, showing the recent and persistent nature of the issue.
Extending the PSPO
Data from both Lambeth Council and the Metropolitan Police have been analysed and confirms that the behaviours associated with street gaming and street gambling are having a negative impact on people in the area.
This negative behaviour is linked with modern-day slavery, human trafficking, links to women involved in prostitution, exploitation of minors, pick-pocketing and theft, and the deliberate targeting of vulnerable people.
A sample of 100 reported crimes since January 2017 have been analysed and a number of themes were identified:
- Reports of theft and pickpocketing
- Victims lured into revealing cash which was then snatched/stolen
- Reports that victims have been fraudulently conned out of money
- Breaches of Criminal Behaviour Orders
- Victims surrounded and threatened by a group of gamers
- Weapons found on gamers following searches
- Assault or obstruction of police officers
- Offenders found in possession of stolen goods
- Missing persons linked to street gaming or street gambling
- Vulnerable children were taken into police protection
If the current PSPO is not extended, it will make it difficult for Lambeth Council and Metropolitan Police to enforce against street gaming and gambling to ensure it is reduced. It is likely there will be an increase in this negative behaviour, which will have a severe impact on the area.
Considering the negative impact this has on our borough, Lambeth Council proposes to extend the existing order for a further three years to protect people who live, work and visit Westminster Bridge and the surrounding areas. Please see our recommendation to consult report for further details.