​Partners collaborate for a welcoming town

8 October 2019

Partners come together to make Town Centre a welcoming and safe environment

An initiative which is designed to discourage anti-social behaviour in Swindon Town Centre has been launched.

Swindon Borough Council has joined forces with Wiltshire Police and inSwindon to focus on improving the behaviours of a minority of people within the Town Centre area currently covered by a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO).

The PSPO focuses on issues such as keeping dogs on leads, begging, skateboarding, cycling and drinking in public and is aimed at creating a welcoming and safe environment for those that visit the Town Centre.

Under the new enforcement and behaviour change initiative, issues such as illegal parking, littering, untidy sites, fly-tipping and dog fouling will also be tackled in an effort to promote a safer and clean environment.

Since the PSPO was introduced in the town centre almost four years ago, officers from the Council, Wiltshire Police and inSwindon have offered advice to thousands of individuals who were contravening the order. As every individual approached stopped their activity following the advice, there has been no need to issue any fines

The ‘warning and informing’ policy, covers the town centre, Regent Circus, the public thoroughfares into the town centre from Swindon railway station and the area around Spring Gardens.

However, in an effort to stop people from violating the PSPO in the first place and taking part in other anti-social activities, the Council has employed extra staff who will join colleagues from the Police and inSwindon in carrying out regular patrols to provide a visible reminder to people that the PSPO is in operation.

Dedicated Council staff will include two Envirocrime Officers who will focus on changing people’s bad behaviours, and two Civil Enforcement Officers, who will deal with parking infringements.

Based on the intelligence gathered through this initiative, the Council may look to employ additional staff in the coming months to join colleagues in the Police as part of a multi-enforcement approach.

PSPOs were introduced as part of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and are primarily aimed at changing and improving behaviour. Anyone caught breaching the order will be advised to stop their activity and, if they fail to do so, a fixed penalty notice may be issued. The fixed penalty is set at £100 and, if not paid, could result in court fines of up to £1,000.

Fines for illegal parking, fly-tipping, dog fouling and littering can range from £25 right up to £400 for incidents of fly-tipping.

Signage warning people of the PSPO restrictions is already in place in the Town Centre, but further signs will be brought in to provide even greater awareness of the activities that are prohibited.

The enforcement and behaviour change initiative will be monitored over the next three months to evaluate its effectiveness.

Councillor Oliver Donachie, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy and Place, said: “There is no doubt that the PSPO has served its purpose in terms of raising awareness of the types of anti-social behaviour we want to stamp out in the Town Centre.

“But there is still a small minority of people who are continuing to flout the restrictions and this cannot continue especially when we want to support our High Street and encourage people to come into the Town Centre.

“We now have dedicated staff who will be a visible presence in the Town Centre, together with our partners in the Police and inSwindon. Our message is a clear one. The Town Centre is an anti-social activity free zone and if you persist with your behaviour you will be fined.”

Di Powell, inSwindon BID Chief Executive Officer said: “Visitors, shoppers and town centre workers have the right and expect to go about their day-to-day lives unaffected by anti-social behaviour. We welcome the news to have further support in helping keep our town centre safe, making for a more welcoming experience for everyone. Our Street Team ambassadors play an integral role in being our eyes and ears for the town centre and with the appointment of new council dedicated staff, and support from Wiltshire Police, we can all work together to tackle the minority who ignore the PSPO that will ensure the town centre is a safe and friendly environment for everyone.”