The High Court has, for the first time, considered the validity of a Public Space Protection Order and ruled in favour, at least in part, of a local resident who challenged some controversial restrictions which criminalised the normal behaviour of dogs in council owned parks and public spaces.
Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) are instruments available to local authorities under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to deal with activities carried on in public which have a persistent detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality. They allow for criminal penalties to be used against individuals caught breaching an order and worryingly there have been an increasing number of PSPOs being made to crack down on everyday activities such as cycling, busking and, in this case, dog walking.
In October 2017 Richmond Borough Council introduced a wide ranging PSPO which, amongst other non-dog related measures, made it an offence for your dog to ‘cause an annoyance to any other person’ or ‘cause damage to….tree, plant, turf or other Council property’.
Caroline Summers, represented by Kingsley Napley and supported by the Kennel Club, successfully obtained an order from the High Court in April 2018 which quashed these parts of Richmond Council’s PSPO, which the judge described as “objectionable.” This was a victory for responsible dog owners and will hopefully mean that other local authorities have to think more carefully before attempting to criminalise normal lawful activities.