Most people who replied to a consultation are in favour of the introduction of a public space protection order (PSPO) to tackle crime in Coventry City Centre and nearby areas.
A consultation was held earlier in the year on proposals to create an order covering St Michael’s Ward and adjacent wards.
West Midlands Police and Coventry City Council believe that the order will assist police in tackling anti-social behaviour, drug use, drug dealing and exploitation of young people, both criminally and sexually. It will also aim to address an increase in public place violence including gun and knife crime.
It will be considered at the Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday 11 June.
Coventry’s Deputy Council Leader, Cllr Abdul Salam Khan, said first and foremost the order was to help safeguard young people in the city.
Cllr Khan added: “We have overwhelming support for the order which is encouraging. Police do have powers to tackle issues that are listed in the PSPO but these are overly bureaucratic. The order will help the police to act more quickly.”
It is hoped that the PSPO could be in place later in the summer if councillors support the feedback. It can be enforced by simply informing someone that their behaviour is unacceptable and advising them to move on.
An offence and further action only applies if they refuse. It also has the added benefit of enabling the offender to accept a fixed penalty notice rather than appear in court and receive a criminal record if enforcement is necessary.
Consultation took place over 30 days, from 13 February to 15 March 2019 and received
overwhelming public support. Over 90 per cent of consultees supported the introduction of the proposed PSPO and over 80 per cent supported the proposed geographical area in which the order would apply.
Cllr Jim O’Boyle, who is a ward councillor in St Michael’s Ward said the introduction of the order made sense. He said: “A lot of the issues that the police have to deal with are absolutely unacceptable and the order is necessary if we want to help improve people’s quality of life.
“There are well known hot spots in the city centre and the surrounding area. As a Council we believe it is reasonable to take this approach. I speak with the police and residents regularly in an attempt to resolve problems of violent crime, drug dealing and other criminal behaviour.”
In line with other PSPOs in Coventry, any Fixed Penalty Notice for non-compliance with a
PSPO will be set at £100 reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days. If the Fixed Penalty Notice
is not paid, it is the Council’s policy to prosecute the offender in the Magistrates` Court,
where the maximum fine is currently £1000 (level 3 on the standard scale)
There has been a 20 per cent increase in violent crime across Coventry in the last 12 months – with a spike in violence recently in some locations around and on the edge of the city centre.
According to senior police officers, a PSPO would assist them in combating crime by enabling officers to act quicker and more effectively if they suspect people have gathered in the city centre intent on causing trouble.
The extent of the proposed PSPO boundaries aims to avoid displacement of criminal activity in parts of the city centre and other areas including the Canal Basin and Gosford Green.
Superintendent for Neighbourhood Policing, Phil Healey, said: “There are clear examples of drug use and drug dealing, and exploitation of young people – both criminally and sexually – and an increase in violence in some pockets of the city centre and nearby areas.
“The order will help us to police the city centre and nearby areas. We will be able to disperse groups of two or more people if we suspect or have evidence of criminal activity. If they refuse to move on they can be arrested and/or given a fixed penalty fine.
“Law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear from this proposal. There are people who are intent on causing trouble. It’s important that we address this.”
Cllr Khan added: “We will want to monitor and evaluate its effectiveness in the coming months. It will provide reassurance to shoppers, workers and residents.”