Power to the People? Public Spaces Protection Orders, Hybrid Law and Human Rights
29 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2019
Date Written: August 23, 2019
This article examines the human rights implications of Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs), which are a specific and unique example of a type of power commonly referred to as a ‘civil preventive order’ (CPO). PSPOs deal with a particular problem in a particular area that is ‘detrimental to the local community’s quality of life, by imposing conditions on the use of that area’. These mechanisms differ from other CPOs, which are all imposed under civil law procedures but carry criminal sanctions for any breach, in several fundamental ways. As such, this article argues that PSPOs demonstrate, simultaneously, the evolution and devolution of the ‘preventive state’, whilst the mechanisms also challenge the nature and very purpose of public spaces. On the one hand, PSPOs signify evolution by departing from the established practices of other CPOs, but on the other hand, PSPOs also demonstrate devolution by conferring significant discretion upon local authorities when imposing them. Despite empowering local communities, PSPOs represent a potentially dangerous politicisation of hybrid law-making, with ramifications for human rights in public spaces, including those rights pertaining to political participation.
Keywords: public law; civil preventive orders; Public Spaces Protection Orders; Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014; hybrid law; human rights
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