Plans to ex­tend anti-yob pow­ers

Rochdale Observer - - SPECIAL REPORT -

AN area fo­rum chair has raised the prospect of ex­tend­ing spe­cial pow­ers for clamp­ing down on town cen­tre anti-so­cial be­hav­iour to the out­skirts.

A Pub­lic Space Pro­tec­tion Or­der (PSPO) - which bans ac­tiv­i­ties such as beg­ging, on-street drink­ing and un­li­censed char­ity col­lec­tions - was in­tro­duced to Rochdale town cen­tre in July.

Un­der its terms, of­fend­ers can be hit with on-thes­pot fines by po­lice, PCSOs and coun­cil en­force­ment of­fi­cers.

But it’s not just the town cen­tre that suf­fers from anti-so­cial be­hav­iour.

Beg­gars are a par­tic­u­lar prob­lem in Milk­stone and Deeplish, where po­lice say most not home­less, but prey­ing on peo­ple’s gen­eros­ity.

And Shahid Mo­hammed Sar­dar raised the prospect of ex­pand­ing the zone, af­ter res­i­dents ques­tioned po­lice about the prob­lem at Milk­stone and Deeplish Area Fo­rum meet­ing.

Mark Reynolds, pub­lic realm of­fi­cer for Rochdale Coun­cil, said it could be done, but do­ing so would not be not be with­out its draw­backs.

“It de­pends how big a PSPO do you want,” he told the meet­ing.

“It’s pre­dom­i­nantly to ad­dress street-drink­ing, beg­ging and anti-so­cial be­hav­iour in the town cen­tre, which in­cor­po­rates the Rochdale sta­tion and in­cludes vis­i­tors to the town.

“You can ex­tend it to Tweedale Street, go fur­ther and fur­ther and fur­ther.

“But the prob­lem then is it doesn’t be­come as in­tense and your re­sources are dis­persed even fur­ther, and it doesn’t be­come a PSPO that’s spe­cific to an area.”

The PSPO also pro­hibits anti-so­cial driv­ing, skate­board­ing in cer­tain ar­eas and

Af­ter the meet­ing, ward coun­cil­lor Sameena Za­heer said she would like to see the PSPO ex­tended - but fund­ing was a ma­jor stum­bling block.

“We are al­ready work­ing on it, but the ma­jor is­sue is the fund­ing, the amount of cuts we have at Rochdale Coun­cil, we are al­most cut to the bone,” she said.

“Any­thing which would ben­e­fit of busi­ness, of course I would sup­port it, but we also know the rea­son we can’t im­ple­ment it is be­cause of the fund­ing.”

She added that she hoped money would be avail­able in fu­ture to ex­tend the PSPO to Milk­stone and Deeplish.

PSPOs have been crit­i­cised by op­po­nents for crim­i­nal­is­ing vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple and in­fring­ing on peo­ple’s free­doms.

And Coun Daniel Mered­ith, who has over­seen the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the PSPO in Rochdale, says he would like to see the PSPO pi­loted in other ar­eas of the bor­ough - but only once it is work­ing ‘cor­rectly’ in the town cen­tre.

He said: “We want to iron out all the teething problems and try to work with char­i­ties to make sure we sup­port vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple in the town cen­tre first and get it cor­rect and in line with ethics.

“In fu­ture, I would like to see it tri­alled in other ar­eas. Milk­stone and Deeplish has a prob­lem be­ing right next to the town cen­tre.

“Peo­ple are go­ing from the town cen­tre it­self to where the curry houses are, there has been a prob­lem with peo­ple ap­proach­ing cars.”

He added that the area could po­ten­tially pilot an ex­ten­sion of the PSPO and also stressed that PSPOs can be tai­lored to tar­get known problems such as speed­ing cars in Hey­wood.

Mean­while, the neigh­bour­hood polic­ing team, re­minded res­i­dents at the meet­ing not to give money to beg­gars.

PCSO So­hail Hus­sain said: “The ma­jor­ity are not home­less, but prob­lem is the com­mu­nity keeps giv­ing to them.

“They have said that they make a lot of money, that’s why they keep com­ing back, we need to en­force the fact that beg­ging is a crime, we need to stop giv­ing money to them.”

He added: “We need to get out of the habit. Once they stop mak­ing money,they will stop com­ing and stop mither­ing you.”

PC Mo­hammed Waqas warned that beg­gars of­ten used money for il­le­gal pur­poses.

He said: “It’s what they do with the money. At the end of the day they will be us­ing it to buy drugs and other things.

“We need to get the mes­sage out to the com­mu­nity there, that if you want to give money to char­i­ties that will help peo­ple in Rochdale.”

●●Rochdale Town cen­tre Freda Hol­lows

●●Rochdale’s Mor­ri­son’s store

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