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North Devon Council's legal team have successfully prosecuted three local men this month, following breaches of either Community Protection Notice (CPN) or a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) in place, in Barnstaple town centre.

Each of the three men were prosecuted at Barnstaple Magistrates Court after they were found to have been drinking alcohol, on separate occasions, within the boundary of the PSPO or in breach of the terms of a Community Protection Notice. 

The PSPO, which is also in place in Ilfracombe town centre, targets antisocial behaviours such as street drinking, drug use, public urination and aggressive begging (using intimidating language or actions, or begging within five metres of a pay point or cash machine).

On Friday 11 February, magistrates heard that a man was observed by a police officer drinking alcohol out of a bottle in Holland Walk, Barnstaple in November last year. Despite being warned he was committing an offence, the man refused to hand over the bottle. The offender was found guilty and a fine sentenced.

A second hearing took place on Tuesday 15 February, during which magistrates heard that a further male offender was spotted drinking alcohol on Bear Street in November 2021. When warned by North Devon’s Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) Officer about the breach of Community Protection Notice, the man continued to drink the alcohol. The Magistrates found this man guilty of breach of the CPN and sentenced a fine together with a victim surcharge. In addition, on application by the North Devon Council, the magistrates made a Criminal Behaviour Order in respect of this offender due to the significant distress and threat of harm. This Criminal Behaviour Order if breached allows for further sentencing, for example, it carries a maximum penalty of five years' custody, should breach occur. 

At a third hearing on Tuesday 15 February, magistrates heard that a different male offender was observed by a police officer drinking alcohol on Bear Street, Barnstaple in September 2021. The man refused to hand over the can of alcohol when asked, instead attempting to hide it. This offender was found guilty of being in breach of the PSPO and sentenced to pay a fine, victim surcharge and legal costs.

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor David Worden, says: "The vast majority of people in North Devon care about how their individual actions impact the rest of the community. Unfortunately, there remains a minority who don’t follow the rules and the PSPO is in place to ensure we can take action against those people. 

"By working together with other agenices such as Devon and Cornwall Police to tackle this sort of antisocial behaviour, we are ensuring that our town centres are great places to live, work and enjoy. 

"These prosecutions make it clear to everyone that we take the PSPO terms very seriously and will prosecute those who breach them."

A person who fails to comply with the PSPO requirement has committed an offence under section 59 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.