Lincoln council ploughs through antisocial car park fines despite charity resistance

The City of Lincoln Council has ploughed through new enforcement on antisocial behaviour in its car parks despite “resistance” from a homeless charity.

The authority’s policy scrutiny committee on Tuesday approved new public spaces protection orders covering Lucy Tower, Broadgate and the Lincoln Central multi-storey car parks following more than 700 incidents in over a year.

The move will allow police and council enforcement officers to fine ASB offenders £75 or, in extreme cases, take them to court where they could face up to £1,000 in fines.

Social enterprise charity P3, however, objected to the move saying it “not only makes it more difficult for the most vulnerable citizens to access support services, but also criminalises non criminal activities”.

Incidents recorded in the car parks between January 2019 and July 2020 included people being caught with their trousers down, youths throwing items from the roof, people jumping between buildings, drug taking and abuse.

Broadgate car park in Lincoln. Photo: File/The Lincolnite

Assistant director at the authority Simon Colburn praised existing orders in the city centre.

He said: “We’re very proud of our multi-storey car parks, we do a lot of work to make sure they are safe, but we do know we get antisocial behaviour broadly related to people using illegal intoxicating substances in a bad way.”

He said the council worked well with P3 but said they are “very firmly of the view when we have multi-agency meetings that anything we do, whether it’s us or police, that criminalises this behaviour, they are not in agreement with.”

He later added: “I’ll be honest, P3 have almost in some ways resisted our intervention team – which has been very successful because [it] is very much around intervening and providing mental health and action support.”

He said the council worked “strongly” to avoid criminalising any behaviour and used a broad range of tools, powers and partners to tackle issues.

However, he said: “Sometimes, whether we like it or not, we do use a carrot and stick approach so we do have the ability to to threaten criminal action”

He assured councillors the orders, which also include a five metre boundary around the edge of the car parks, would not displace offenders due to their location also being near support services such as Addaction.

Following the meeting, a spokesman for P3 said: “P3 believe there is some great partnership working across the city and the wider region.

“All our services rely on excellent multi-agency relationships with the local authority, police, mental health services and wider support organisations.

“As a charity our only concern is to ensure we are able to build the trust and relationships necessary for the people we work alongside to be able to build a life away from the streets and to overcome any challenges they may face in their daily lives.

“As such, we actively seek to strengthen these relationships and build upon the excellent work we all deliver together.”

The recommendation for approval will now go before a future meeting of the council’s cabinet.

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