Public Spaces Protection

July 6th, 2020 by James Goudie KC

In Wycombe District Council v Snowball (2020) EWHC 1656 (Admin) a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), made under Section 59 of the Anti-Social Behaviour etc Act 2014, was in force. The PSPO prohibited consumption of alcohol, or having an open container for alcohol, in a restricted area. The respondent was in a restricted area. He was holding an open can. It was labelled as lager. He was seen drinking from it. He refused to surrender the can. He was issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) under Section 68 of the Act.

The Court held that the FPN was lawful. This was notwithstanding that it subsequently emerged that the content of the can was not in fact alcohol.

Consumption of alcohol is a breach of a prohibition in a PSPO pursuant to Section 63 of the Act when a constable or an authorised person “reasonably believes” that a person is or has been consuming alcohol. Once that reasonable belief exists, to and continues to exist up to the issue of the FPN, the offence is complete. Events after the issue of the FPN could not the Court holds retrospectively erase the offence.

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