‘Have your say’ plea ahead of plans to introduce new powers to stamp out anti-social behaviour in Stevenage hotspots

Stevenage Borough Council is asking for the public's views ahead of plans to introduce new powers to

Stevenage Borough Council is asking for the public's views ahead of plans to introduce new powers to tackle anti-social behaviour in the town. - Credit: Archant

Sweeping new powers to help stamp out anti-social behaviour could soon be used in Stevenage – but first you’re being asked to make your views known.

Stevenage Borough Council has produced a report on how to effectively police ‘hotspot’ areas – with a ban on begging or drinking alcohol in a public place two of the measures on the table.

The ‘block the yobs’ blueprint wants to do away with existing ‘designated public place orders’ which give the police discretionary powers to stop people drinking and confiscate alcohol, and replace them with wider-ranging ‘public space protection orders’ which would lay down clear rules about what will be tolerated.

A Stevenage Borough Council spokesman told the Comet yesterday: “The public’s view is very important to us.

“The findings of our recent residents survey show that community safety is a key priority and so it is crucial that we incorporate public opinion into our policy planning when dealing with issues such as anti-social behaviour.

“Stevenage has a long-standing issue with street drinking, begging and aggressive begging activity, with people involved in such activities regularly witnessed urinating or defecating in public spaces.

“This in turn causes harassment, alarm and distress to members of the public, but this can be particularly difficult to deal with through other legal channels.”

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One plank of the new rules will be a ban on anyone ‘loitering’ within 10 metres of a cash machine “unless waiting to use the machine for the purpose it is designed for.”

A police spokesman said: “The proposed areas that would be covered are all hotspots for anti-social behaviour.

“The orders would give the police and the council greater powers to deal with this behaviour and provide sanctions to those who fail to comply.

“The PSPO will address the key issues which have a detrimental effect on the quality of life of local residents and those visiting the area, and will enable us to deal with offenders swiftly and effectively.

“However, the order will only be enforced when required.”

The borough council is running an online survey which will close on Friday, December 18.

You can find out more online at www.stevenage.gov.uk/have-your-say/pspo or pick up a copy of the survey from the council’s customer service centre in Danestrete.