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New powers now in force to tackle bad behaviour

Robust new powers to stamp out bad behaviour in the centre of Middlesbrough have now come into force.

A Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) outlawing a host of acts in the TS1 area is introduced today (Tuesday, November 26).

Urinating and defecating, drinking alcohol, begging, dog fouling, bin raiding, spitting and cycling on pavements will all become offences subject to a fine.

Fines are to be used as a last resort and set at a level that encourages positive behaviour change. They will be set at £25 rising to £50 if payment is not received within two weeks while non-payment could result in an appearance at Magistrates' Court and a fine of up to £1,000.

The PSPO consultation process began informally in June with Middlesbrough Council receiving 451 responses to the idea with 95% of people identifying troubling issues.

Subsequently a formal consultation was launched in July which received 804 responses with 94% in favour of the introduction of the PSPO.

The PSPO would be part of a raft of changes being introduced to tackle anti-social behaviour and to support the most vulnerable.

The Street Warden service is due to increase by 24 new wardens in the coming weeks and both Street Wardens and Neighbourhood Safety Officers are being trained in issuing Fixed Penalty Notices, while Street Wardens are now wearing body-worn CCTV cameras and two Community Enforcement Vehicles are patrolling Middlesbrough's streets.

The introduction of the PSPO has been welcomed by local businesses trying to bring more people into the centre of Middlesbrough.

Among them was Simon Fletcher, owner of Baker Street kitchen, who said: "We have only had a couple of issues but if it's going to improve the quality of the experience of the high street and get rid of some of anti-social behaviour which puts people off coming into the town then I think it's a good scheme."