Liberty welcomes Birmingham City Council’s decision to scrap shameful PSPO plans

16 September 2015

Liberty has welcomed Birmingham City Council’s decision to scrap plans for a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) that would have posed a major threat to protest rights and civil liberties.

Councillor James McKay, Cabinet Member for Inclusion and Community Safety, has today confirmed the authority will no longer proceed with the proposals after reflecting on more than 600 consultation responses.

Liberty wrote to Cllr McKay in July raising concerns that the vaguely-worded Order risked breaching the rights of peaceful protestors and demonstrators under Articles 10 and 11 of the Human Rights Act (the right to freedom of expression and assembly) – and urging him to drop the plans.

The PSPO – which would have covered landmark city centre buildings of both practical and symbolic importance to the people of Birmingham – proposed a blanket ban on the use of amplification in any circumstances by “buskers, street entertainers and street speakers”.

Rosie Brighouse, Legal Officer for Liberty, said: 

“We are delighted the Council has listened to the concerns of its people and campaigners and abandoned these misguided plans.

“We are witnessing a rash of unfair, overbroad PSPO proposals across the country, which will penalise poverty or criminalise people for exercising their democratic rights. We strongly urge other authorities to follow Birmingham City Council’s example in steering clear of these unlawful, excessive and counterproductive measures.”

PSPOs, created last year by the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act, enable local authorities to criminalise activities that have a persistent and unreasonable detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the area. Liberty opposed their creation on the basis that they are too widely drawn, with vague definitions of what can be criminalised and disproportionately punitive sanctions, and would result in the fast-tracking of vulnerable individuals into the criminal justice system.

Liberty is campaigning to end the use of unfair and overbroad PSPOs which criminalise the most vulnerable in society. If you’ve been affected by such an Order, or know of others, contact us by emailing information@liberty-human-rights.org.uk.

Notes to editors