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Public Spaces Protection Orders: a critical policy analysis

Vicky Heap (Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)
Jill Dickinson (Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)

Safer Communities

ISSN: 1757-8043

Article publication date: 5 June 2018

Issue publication date: 20 August 2018




The purpose of this paper is to critically appraise the Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) policy that was introduced by the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act (2014). Within a designated area assigned by the local council, PSPOs can prohibit or require specific behaviours to improve the quality of life for people inhabiting that space. Those who do not comply face a fixed penalty notice of £100 or a fine of £1,000 on summary conviction. However, the practical and theoretical impact associated with the development of these powers has yet to be fully explored.


Using Bannister and O’Sullivan’s (2013) discussion of civility and anti-social behaviour policy as a starting point, the authors show how PSPOs could create new frontiers in exclusion, intolerance and criminalisation, as PSPOs enable the prohibition of any type of behaviour perceived to negatively affect the quality of life.


Local councils in England and Wales now have unlimited and unregulated powers to control public spaces. The authors suggest that this has the potential to produce localised tolerance thresholds and civility agendas that currently target and further marginalise vulnerable people, and the authors highlight street sleeping homeless people as one such group.


There has been little academic debate on this topic. This paper raises a number of original, conceptual questions that provide an analytical framework for future empirical research. The authors also use original data from Freedom of Information requests to contextualise the discussions.



Heap, V. and Dickinson, J. (2018), "Public Spaces Protection Orders: a critical policy analysis", Safer Communities, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 182-192.



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