CONTROVERSIAL powers used to tackle anti-social behaviour in central Oxford are to be used in a fresh crackdown on illegal boaters along the city’s canal and rivers.

Oxford City Council wants a new public spaces protection order (PSPO) to cover the River Thames, the Cherwell and Oxford Canal.

Council officers and police would be able to enforce it with £100 on-the-spot fines and prosecutions that could lead to £1,000 fines, as part of efforts to tackle illegal mooring, drunken antics and criminal and environmental damage.

It would stop people mooring boats at riverbanks without permission from landowners, obstructing paths or the waterways, putting up structures or leaving rubbish and failing to control dogs.

Jericho and Osney city councillor Colin Cook said: “The PSPO will be for the benefit of not just residents, but also boaters and tourists. It will make enforcement easier and less expensive.”

Figures from the local authority, record that almost 100 crimes were reported to police along the waterways between April 2014 and October 2015. They included arson, burglary, drug-related offences, shouting abuse, and a man who hooked a kayaker with his fishing line while drunk. In the past year people have also complained about boats moored along the Thames near Abbey Road and others in Castle Mill Stream next to Jericho.

It is thought up to 30 boats are moored without permission at any one time. The authorities have struggled to take action due to confusion about land ownership.

Court cases to evict them can also take several months.

The new PSPO has been drawn up with support from the Environment Agency and the Canal & Rivers Trust.

But the PSPO proposals have prompted concern from boaters, with many arguing there are not enough mooring spaces in the city.

Historian and boater Mark Davies, 60, said: “If people are mooring without permission then they may well be putting themselves and others in jeopardy, so a financial penalty is the obvious way to prevent that. It is an affordable alternative to house prices in the city. Most would be happy to pay if there were more mooring sites.”

The new PSPO is due to be examined by the city council scrutiny committee next Monday. If passed it would be the second put in place by the city council since 2014.