I am as many of you will know something of a fan of Mark Thomas, a well known comedian, protester, and thorn in the pimply backside of the establishment. Last year a friend kindly look to me one of his gigs, where we examined the issue of Public Space Protection Orders.
Public Space Protection Orders are basically laws that councils dream up, and then implement over a geographically defined area, and came to us in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act of 2014. In and of itself it’s not such a bad idea, giving the ability for problems to be addressed locally, operating under the careful scrutiny of those champions of democracy, local councillors…
What could possibly go wrong?
Well, somewhat bored on the train the other week, I fired off a Freedom of Information request to my local authority, Doncaster, to get a list of any PSPOs they had enacted. For the most part common sense won through, issues had been foreseen and mitigated, and all was well. Then I found this:
Person(s) within the area outlined in the attached map 2 will not ingest, inhale, inject, smoke or otherwise use intoxicating substances. Intoxicating Substances is given the following definition:- Substances with the capacity to stimulate or depress the central nervous system. Exemptions shall apply in cases where the substances are used for a valid and demonstrable medicinal use, given to an animal as a medicinal remedy, are cigarettes (tobacco) or vaporisers or are food stuffs regulated by food health and safety legislation.
To be in place for the whole of Hexthorpe
At all times.
Congratulations – we’ve brought back prohibition to the streets of Doncaster. You will note there are no caveats or exceptions allowing people to drink in the public houses in the area, or indeed within their own homes…
This is what happens when you give a body powers but nobody provides adequate scrutiny.
Perhaps it’s time to have a word with the local constabulary, to point out all these “drinking establishments” that exist within the zone. Every customer is committing a criminal act. The bar staff are technically dealers… Now if I can just persuade old plod to pop around to the council offices to arrest the licensing committee for aiding and abetting…