Report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place)
The Cabinet Member considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place) which requested an extension be made to the existing Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) for Edgwick Park. A PSPO was granted for Edgwick Park in April 2016 (the Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure Sport and Parks minute 43/15 refers). The order was created to address concerns at the park regarding Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), exacerbated by drugs, alcohol and anti-social behaviour. Appended to the report were the proposed draft order for Edgwick Park and impact statements.
The order gave agencies powers to request groups leave the park that were felt to be acting in a manner to the detriment of other park users, if they refuse to leave they would be committing an offence and liable to enforcement, either a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) or a summons to court.
The PSPO was in place following an extensive consultation exercise, the renewal required consultation with key local partners and agencies. West Midlands Police, Parks and Greenspace colleagues and the adjoining primary school had been consulted and their responses were appended to the report. All consultees were in agreement that the existing PSPO had been effective in reducing instances of Anti-Social Behaviour in the park and whilst not completely solving issues, a renewal of the order was recommended by all respondents.
Whilst the order had not entirely eliminated incidents of anti-social behaviour, mainly due to the difficulty of consistently dedicating resources to patrol, having the PSPO gave officers powers to deal with issues quickly and effectively. Were the order to expire this would make enforcement at the park far harder than it currently was.
The report noted that local residents still expressed concern from time to time about gatherings of groups in the park. Primarily these groups congregate because of their living conditions outlined in the report. It was felt that the risk and incidents regarding CSE had greatly reduced however, it was not something agencies could be complacent about. It was still felt that the presence of such groups was a deterrent to others from using the park as regularly as they would otherwise.
Patrols to the park from several agencies had been increased. Whilst those patrols were not as regular as when the concerns were initially received it was still a location that Police and support workers from agencies such as Horizon (CSE) and similar attended and spoke to individuals and groups.
There had been physical alterations in and around the park to address matters. Significant amounts of vegetation and undergrowth had been cut back and a toilet block had been demolished. This had decreased the locations where it was felt there were potential for activities that would cause concern.
The report detailed the options considered were to extend the order or to let it expire, the extension option was recommended.
It was noted the use of a PSPO was intended to be an additional tool for officers to use to manage situations that could potentially escalate. The order in itself was not going to solve any particular issue on its own, that would often need a number of different methods, used jointly. The order would be valid for a period of three years and could be further extended or amended, providing due process was followed.
Once approved the draft order would be publicised at the site for up to 30 days and notification published on appropriate Council websites, following that process the order could be implemented and operational. Patrols and patrol plans were already in place for the location and would be continuing.
RESOLVED that the Cabinet Member for Policing and Equalities:
1) Note the draft order attached to the report and agree to renew the existing order for a period of three years from the date when the current order expires
2) Request that all partner agencies continue their current actions and patrol plans and also monitor the surrounding areas for any potential displacement of the issues.