Why we’re consulting on a PSPO
Since early 2018, we have been investigating concerns raised about behaviours associated with individuals and represented groups involved in protests and vigils outside the Marie Stopes UK Manchester Centre.
In June 2019 our Communities and Equalities Scrutiny Committee considered an e-petition coordinated by volunteer group Sister Supporter. The petition made a request for the Council to introduce Public Space Protection Orders outside all abortion providing clinics in Manchester to protect service users and clinic staff from harassment and intimidation. From our enquiries the only area within Manchester where specific anti-social behaviour concerns have been raised is Wynnstay Grove. The committee expressed support for officers to continue their investigations and take appropriate action in relation to Wynnstay Grove. Read the full report.
As part of the investigation the Council has received numerous reports from residents, individuals and organisations who describe anti-social behaviours associated with groups or indivduals expressing approval or disapproval of people accessing abortion services. These reports allege these behaviours have been ongoing for several years.
The reports involve a number of behaviours outside the centre including:
- protesting with posters and boards by up to ten people
- posters and signage being put up
- displays of graphic images
- people being unreasonably persistent with visitors to the Centre
- distribution of rosary beads and leaflets showing graphic images
- abusive language
- intimidation and harassment
- flicking or throwing of holy water
- people being observed and filmed
- amplified music or recordings being played
We have listened to representatives of groups and organisations who express support for the introduction of a PSPO and those who do not. Earlier this year we coordinated a meeting attended by representatives from groups and organisations from all sides to explore the possibility of reaching a negotiated agreement. Unfortunately, an agreement was not reached.
A PSPO is one option which may help us address these issues. Tell us what you think about these proposals.