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Wrexham Council to update its powers to deal with anti-social behaviour

WREXHAM Council is set to update its powers to deal with nuisance drinking, urinating, begging, discarded drug needles and other anti-social behaviour.

The authority’s executive board meets on Tuesday to rubber-stamp the updated Public Spaces Protection Order.

PSPOs were one of a number of tools and powers given to councils and their partners in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

This Act gives councils the authority to draft and implement PSPOs in response to particular issues affecting communities, providing certain criteria and legal tests are met.

A report for councillors to read states that it is reasonable to expect that public spaces in the city can be enjoyed by all, without the fear of being intimidated.

It is hoped the PSPO can continue to address issues which could impact on businesses and tourism.

In reviewing the evidence and the likelihood of certain behaviour at risk of continuing, the council says it is justified in implementing a PSPO containing conditions to control drinking, ASB, the taking of intoxicating substances and urinating/defecating in public.

The use of PSPO powers in Wrexham has been well-documented since they were first introduced, having been invoked in the years since to try and deal with problems in areas blighted by anti-social behaviour (ASB), such as Rhosddu.

PSPOs have also been used in Wrexham to deal with dog fouling, with fixed penalty fines issued.

In January 2020, the council’s executive board made a PSPO which joined two previous ones together (Rhosddu Park and Cemetery, and Wrexham Town) that came into effect in 2016.

There looks likely to be few changes to the PSPO which is reviewed every three years.

Feedback received during consultation suggests more provision of public toilets is needed, and that there needs to be greater enforcement under the powers.

The report to be presented by Erddig Cllr Paul Roberts (Con), lead member for partnerships and community safety, states: “The Council continues to receive complaints from members of the public and businesses relating to substance misuse and discarded needles in the City Centre areas, rough sleeping, busking, begging, encampments and general anti-social behaviour.

“To further tackle anti-social behaviour, to support the wider approach to the issues and to ensure that officers have sufficient enforcement powers to use where necessary, the council has consulted with the public and statutory partners to consider whether they support the continuation of the PSPO.

“The suggested prohibitions in the PSPO are the same as the previous PSPO made in 2020, apart from the omission of smoking in city centre play areas as this has been made law nationwide by Welsh Government.”

The report adds: “Since the last PSPO was made, agencies continue to collectively encourage vulnerable people to engage with services and to ensure they are offered help and support routes out of the situation they find themselves in.

“However, where there is no engagement with agencies by an individual and they continue to cause anti-social behaviour, then the sanctions available would be a fixed penalty notice or prosecution.

“The vast majority of Wrexham residents adhere to rules and boundaries without ever the need for any formal enforcement. The PSPO does not seek to target a group of individuals but applies to any member of the public who partake in ASB. By not having restrictions proposed by the PSPO there is a risk of ASB increasing.”

Wrexham Council’s executive board will discuss the updated PSPO when it meets on Tuesday (March 7).