People on a Whitechapel footpath caught urinating, drinking alcohol or swearing could face an on-the-spot fine of up to £100 under an order that came into effect last week.
The Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) gives local authorities and police more power to deal a raft of anti-social behaviours such as urinating, swearing, drug dealing, prostitution and fly-tipping.
Tower Hamlets council said they hoped the order, which came into effect on October 1 and covers the pedestrian footpath from Old Montague Street and Whitechapel Road, would make Whitechapel feel “less intimidating”.
They have installed closed circuit cameras to monitor the area, and it will be patrolled by both police and specialised council employees (dubbed Tower Hamlets Enforcement Officers).
The new order is in place for three years but can be changed or extended by the council – failure to comply incurs an on-the-spot fine or legal action.
The power to invoke PSPOs came with the introduction of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act which passed back in 2014.
The police Safer Neighbourhoods team have received 550 reports of anti-social behaviour in the Whitechapel area over the past five years. Each Safer Neighbourhoods team has a dedicated ward officer and a police Community Support Officer.
Councillor Shiria Khatun, Deputy Mayor for Community Affairs and a cabinet member for Community Safety teams said: “Persistent anti-social behaviour in and around Kings Arms Court, Whitechapel, has had a detrimental effect on visitors and those who live or work there. The council and police will be exercising their powers under this new order.”
Liberty, the human rights campaigners, are against the introduction of the PSPO as they believe they can be “used to limit our freedom of speech and the right to protest.” They claim that PSPOs are too vague in the definitions of what is considered a crime, and that they end up giving homeless people criminal records and un-payable fines.