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Tough rules ban groups meeting in public and defecating in open air in Thanet

ByDean Kilpatrick, local democracy reporter

New rules banning anti-social behaviour – including swearing and defecating in public – have been introduced in Thanet.

Police and council enforcement officers now have the power to issue £80 fines to those caught behaving in a way “likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to others” in certain parts of Ramsgate and Margate.

Activity covered by the crackdown includes congregating in groups of more than two, using foul or abusive language, or “urinating, defecating or spitting” in a public space.

Thanet has banned groups of three or more meeting in public in certain areas. Stock image (3308831)
Thanet has banned groups of three or more meeting in public in certain areas. Stock image (3308831)

People cycling on pavements, play fighting or jumping dangerously between buildings are also subject to punishment.

The wards affected by the new policy are Margate Central, Central Harbour, Eastcliff and Cliftonville. More than half of anti-social behaviour in Thanet happens in these areas.

The Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) was signed off by Thanet District Council’s cabinet last night, and will be in force for three years from today.

Cllr Lesley Game (Con), cabinet member for housing and safer neighbourhoods, said: “I’m sure you are all aware that we do have problems with anti-social behaviour, and gangs, and people behaving as we don’t want to see them.

“I’m sure if you have walked around any of these areas, you’re well aware of this anti-social behaviour and I know that local businesses are very much in support of these PSPOs.

“The introduction of this PSPO will allow both council and police staff to tackle some of these issues, which they are currently unable to do under existing legislation.”

Council officers have reported “significant” issues with nuisance in the four wards, with increased enforcement officer visibility only bringing “moderate success”.

Some 4,000 incidents of anti-social behaviour were reported across the whole of the isle between April 2017 and February 2018, with Thanet having the highest levels in Kent.

The legislation does not allow sweeping orders to be imposed on the whole district, with restrictions having to be “proportionate” to the issue.

Cllr Rosanna Taylor-Smith (Con), cabinet member for operational services, said council officers currently have to clear up “all sorts of unpleasant things”.

She concluded: “I think this is a very good power to be introducing, and it’s nice to see the police and council working so closely together. I’m sure it will be a good deterrent.”

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