Consultation on extending the Rosslyn Road Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO)

Closes 30 Aug 2021

Opened 20 Jul 2021

Overview

Richmond Council is consulting residents, interested individuals, groups and other stakeholders on whether to extend the Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) that was put in place on the 1st April 2019 for a further three years. The consultation considers whether to continue the PSPO to address concerns and behaviours related to protests/vigils outside the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) Clinic in Rosslyn Road. The current PSPO comes to an end on the 31st March 2022.

A PSPO under section 59 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (the ACT) allows the Council to prohibit specific activities, and/or require certain things to be done by people engaged in particular activities, within a defined public area.

To extend the PSPO, the Council has to be satisfied on reasonable grounds that certain conditions have been met.

The first test requires that “-activities that have taken place have had a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those live in the locality or it is likely that activities will take place and that they will have a detrimental effect.”

The second test is that “-the effect or likely effect of these activities a) is, or is likely to be, persistent or continuing in nature b) is, or is likely to be, unreasonable and c) justifies the restrictions being imposed”.

Since the PSPO was introduced there have been no known breaches of the restrictions in the buffer zone area and there have been no further petitions, complaints or concerns raised with the Council. There were some reports of vigils/protests just outside the boundary of the buffer zone near St Margaret’s station soon after the PSPO came into force and a lone protest outside the Civic Centre building. 

Although there have been no breaches of the PSPO since it was put in place, the consultation and decision making process, will need to consider the likelihood of these activities happening again if the PSPO was not extended.

Background

The BPAS Clinic, which is located on Rosslyn Road, Twickenham provides abortion advice & treatment, counselling and contraception amongst other services. The clinic sees approximately 50 clients a day during its operating hours of Monday to Saturday from 07:30 to 19:00 (Wednesday & Thursday 09:30-14:30) (Tuesday to Saturday from 08:00 to 19:00). It is understood that there has been a clinic at this location since the mid 1970’s.

While there had been protests/vigils outside the clinic on and off for over 10 years, these tended to be infrequent and less organised. From September 2013, however, the frequency and scope of the protests/vigils increased to the extent that they were almost daily. The majority of the protestors/vigil holders appeared to be associated with or volunteers of pro-life organisations.

A range of behaviours had been reported, including displaying images to both residents and visitors to the clinic, approaching people and attempting to speak to them, handing out leaflets and rosary beads, which has made some people feel upset, uncomfortable, intimidated and/or harassed.

These protests/vigils resulted in two petitions being submitted by local residents in 2014 and 2017-18 and in response the Council’s Community Safety Service liaised with interested parties about their concerns and to review the evidence base.

Officers also analysed the impact and witness statements that had been gathered by BPAS and Richmond Police over the period 2003-2018, of which the majority relate to the period 2013-18 when the protests/vigils became more regular and co-ordinated.

The analysis of these statements coupled with the petitions and the community safety officer’s observations, demonstrated that the protests/vigils were having a negative impact on some of those who visit, work, reside in the local area or visit the clinic and that they feel harassed, alarmed or distressed by the presence of the protests/vigils.

Consultation, decision-making and introduction

In response, the Council carried out a six week consultation between 29th October and 9th December 2018 and received over 3,000 responses, with over 80% of respondents saying that the behaviours had a detrimental affect on them or others and over 80% supporting the introduction of a buffer zone. There was also strong support for the restrictions and the proposed boundaries of the buffer zone, where the restrictions would apply.

The consultation findings were reported to the Council’s Regulatory Committee, which supported the recommendation to introduce a buffer zone, with the five restrictions and this was approved at the Full Council meeting on the 5th March 2019. The Rosslyn Road PSPO came into force on the 1st April 2019.

Why a PSPO?

The Council considered the powers of various Anti-Social Behaviour and Public Order Acts as part of an options appraisal report. These included:

  • Negotiated agreement
  • Byelaw
  • Community Protection Notices
  • Dispersal Power
  • Protection from Harassment Act 1997
  • Public Order Act 1986
  • Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO)

The original report concluded that a PSPO would be the most appropriate proportionate and effective power to use.

What would a PSPO involve?

A PSPO prohibits specific activities within a defined area. In this case the activities and the defined area (or buffer zone) are shown at the end of this document.

Failing to comply with the restrictions imposed by the PSPO would constitute a criminal offence.

If extended the PSPO would be re-introduced for a further three years and reviewed thereafter.

Have your say

We would like to hear your views on the issue and whether or not you would support the extension of a PSPO in the Rosslyn Road area.

The consultation is seeking the views of those who live, work, visit or pass through the area, those who access services from the BPAS Clinic, local stakeholders, groups affected by these proposals and statutory consultees.

To ensure that everyone has the opportunity to take part in the consultation the Council will:

  • Send letters to those households in the proposed buffer zone and in the immediate surrounding area.
  • Contact the BPAS Clinic, The Good Counsel Network, other stakeholder groups and statutory consultees.
  • Provide paper copies of the consultation on request.
  • Publicise the consultation via press releases, social media and through the Council’s Community Engagement team.

The consultation is open to all and respondents will be asked for their address and the capacity in which they are responding, so that we understand any impact on people in the area.

Please click below to view the following documents:

All other documents can be viewed here.

If you would like a hard copy of the questionnaire or another format, or if you have any questions or need help in relation to the consultation please call 020 8891 1411 or e-mail us at consultationrosslynroad@richmond.gov.uk

Next steps

Once the consultation is completed a report will be submitted to the Council’s Regulatory Committee, which will include a full analysis of the consultation. The report will include a recommendation on whether or not to extend the PSPO. The Council will need to be satisfied that a PSPO is still required, meets the necessary statutory conditions and will continue to provide a reasonable and necessary response to the issues identified. This report is expected to be considered by the Regulatory Committee in October 2021.

Give Us Your Views

Areas

  • St Margarets and North Twickenham Ward

Audiences

  • Open to all

Interests

  • Richmond Borough