NEW powers introduced on Monday could see people earn criminal records for littering, dog fouling and other antisocial behaviour in the city.

Breaches of public spaces protection orders (PSPO) – effectively an antisocial behaviour order banning certain things in a designated area – would be treated as an offence.

What is classed as a PSPO will be decided by Oxford City Council officers, but there are concerns their new powers are too wide-ranging.

Uniformed enforcement officers could issue on-the-spot fines of £100 and fines of £1,000 through a criminal prosecution.

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But Green Party leader for Oxford, Sam Hollick, the city council ward member for Holywell, called for more restrictions on the powers.

He said: “These powers are too wide-ranging. The definition for what is antisocial is far too broad and I would worry about these orders being misused.

“It could lead to council staff feeling they can police what they feel is ‘appropriate’ behaviour. But it is important to remember the police already have powers to deal with criminal behaviour. I would also worry that this could see homeless people removed from the city centre.

“The council should rein in these powers and agree to only use them after a public consultation.”

The powers are to be delegated to a senior council officer and will be subject to consultation with Councillor Dee Sinclair, executive board member for crime and community response, as well as Thames Valley Police and neighbourhood groups.

City-wide orders are proposed to go before the executive board for final approval.

All orders will be enforceable by police officers, police community support officers and council officers, but will also be subject to appeal within the first six months.

But some believe the new powers will crack down on those causing trouble in Oxford’s neighbourhoods.

Oxford Civic Society welcomed the new powers and said they would help prevent littering in the city.

But Rosanne Bostock, acting chairman of OxClean, the group’s clean-up initiative, said a change in people’s attitudes was also needed.

She said: “More powers for stopping littering are a good idea and perhaps a firmer line will work with some people.”

In a report to the city council executive board, environmental protection service manager Richard Adams said it would have “a significant impact on antisocial behaviour across the city”. Mr Adams said the definition of “public space” was wide-ranging and could even include shopping centres.

City council leader Bob Price said that in certain cases public consultations on the orders would be considered and also said they would not be used against the city’s homeless.

He said: “The orders are going to replace some of the things that already use antisocial behiaviour orders [ASBOs], which have not proved very effective.

“It will cover things like dog fouling, littering and drinking in public, that really get up people’s noses.

“We will be reviewing them every year or every 18 months after they are put in place. But we will not be using them in relation to homeless people. Being forced onto the streets is not anti-social behaviour.”

A spokesman for the Home Office told the Oxford Mail that as breaches of the orders would be criminal offences, it would be possible for those in breach to be arrested and gain a criminal record.

The spokesman said: “As with any criminal offence, people could get a criminal record and be arrested. It is more likely that the majority of issues will be dealt with using fines, but there is potential to go down that route.”

Council spokesman Chofamba Sithole said: “The new Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 introduces public spaces protection orders that enable the council, in consultation with the police and landowners, to prohibit certain behaviours or require behaviours in the area.

“For example, it may be deemed appropriate to restrict access to a locality that has been associated with anti-social behaviour, or restrict public drinking in a park.

“The Act repeals existing legislation relating to dog control orders, designated public space orders and gating orders. There is a maximum of three years for the council to convert these existing orders into public spaces protection orders.”

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