Hackney Council backs down on Public Space Protection Order after pressure from community groups

hackney we won

Campaign group Digs announce victory in the battle to stop criminalisation of the homeless. Pic: screengrab @Hackney_renters


Hackney council has decided to completely scrap its controversial Public Space Protection Order, which criminalised activities like begging and public drinking and was accused of penalising the homeless.

The decision was announced yesterday by Councillor Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor in Hackney.

Linden said: “In the light of ongoing public concern, we have decided to withdraw Hackney’s Public Space Protection Order, whilst we further review how we can best tackle anti-social behaviour for the benefit of all our residents, and further assess the process and impact of the order.”

She added: “Hackney has never had any intention of victimising vulnerable people. On the contrary, we are committed to helping and supporting those who need it most. We are trying to use all the tools at our disposal to keep this a safe place for everyone.”

The Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) was introduced last month in an effort to tackle anti-social behaviour in the borough. The original measure included references to ‘rough sleepers’, who could be fined up to 1000£ for sleeping rough in doorways and other public spaces.

The PSPO was amended on 8 June, when the council removed rough sleeping from the list of anti-social activities. The revision came after pressure from charities and community groups and a petition of opposition, which was signed by over 80,000 supporters including pop star Ellie Goulding.

However, community group of Hackney renters Digs continued its campaign #NotFineWithus, arguing that removing references to rough sleeping was not enough to stop the PSPO from criminalising homeless people.

hackney renters pspo

Hackney renters reaction to PSPO revision earlier this month. Pic: @Hackney_renters

Digs announced the withdrawal of PSPO (also dubbed as Linden’s Law) as “a victory for people power”.

Heather Kennedy, member of Digs, said in a post by Hackney renters: “This is a victory for people power and shows what we can achieve when we organise and take action. This should send an unequivocal message to the council and developers that the people of Hackney won’t stand by whilst victims of the housing crisis are conveniently sanitised from public view. Hackney is for everyone, not just the affluent few.”

digs we won

Hackney renters announce victory. Pic: screengrab @hackney_renters

Digs and Reclaim Hackney were going to hold a protest against Hackney council on Monday 22 June, which will now be a family friendly celebration of the victory and “the values we want Hackney to be built upon” said Kennedy.

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