On the spot fines threat for trouble causers in Rotherham community

Penalty: Offenders in Fitzwilliam Road could face an instant fine in future
Penalty: Offenders in Fitzwilliam Road could face an instant fine in future

Consultations have been approved which could give police and council officers the power to impose instant fixed penalty fines for a range of offences in a Rotherham community.

A Public Space Protection Order was introduced in the town centre a year ago and has been seen as successful in helping the authorities curb problems such as street drinking which have been previously more difficult to deal with.

Issuing fixed penalties has also allowed repeat offenders to be tracked more accurately, so further measures can be taken to address the behaviour of those who remain undeterred by a cash penalty.

Now Rotherham Council is considering extending the scheme to cover Fitzwilliam Road, but will hold a month of consultations in the area to gauge public opinion before any decisions are taken.

It is expected councillors who represent the area, along with council staff who work there, will be closely involved in deciding what form the consultation takes, to try to ensure it is as helpful as possible.

The results will end up going to the council’s ruling Cabinet for a decision on whether to move the scheme forwards.

Restrictions which can be covered by a PSPO include alcohol consumption, the use of foul or abusive language and vehicle nuisance.

Any scheme for Fitzwilliam Road would be likely to take a different form to the town centre order, to reflect the residential area, so could also cover issues such as on street noise which could cause a disturbance and excessive noise created from within homes.

There could also be a requirement for people to maintain gardens and for businesses to keep their frontage tidy.

Members of the council’s scrutiny panel have been presented with details of the impact of the town centre scheme in its first year and were told in that time 85 fixed penalties have been issued, either by police or the council’s own staff.

Most were imposed because of problems with alcohol, but ten per cent went to people found urinating.

Council officer Sam Barstow told councillors when offenders did not respond to fixed penalty notices, they could be prosecuted and the courts asked to impose a criminal behaviour order, to bar them from certain areas or associating with certain individuals, in an attempt to break their cycle of behaviour.

The PSPO is not targeted against the homeless or beggars, however. There is specific instruction from the Government that orders should not be used against those groups.

Both police and the council have powers to take action against the problems covered by a PSPO, but the advantage it provides is a quick solution with a fixed penalty and the chance to better monitor the offenders involved.