Young adults and street enforcements

We are carrying out a series of activities including research, producing briefings and holding events to find out how street enforcements are being used to sanction young adults (18-25 year olds) in England and Wales.

Street enforcements can be used by local authorities, the police and housing providers to sanction particular behaviours in public spaces. 

Very little is known about street enforcements; how they are used, who is being sanctioned by them, or what the outcomes are of using this approach. There is no centralised data collection about their use and significant local discretion regarding when and how they might be applied. 

Street enforcement has also attracted controversy. For some, they are important tools which can legitimately intervene to make public spaces places everyone can enjoy. Others have been critical about their potentially arbitrary nature, failure to address fundamental social problems, and concerns they could further marginalise vulnerable groups. 

We will be finding out more about how street enforcements are being used in relation to young adults in particular, and using this evidence to help inform future practice in this area. Our evidence gathering will include Freedom of Information requests, a survey of those using street enforcement measures, as well as discussion with those involved in public safety strategies throughout the project. 

The project will cover issues such as the numbers of young adults subject to criminal justice sanctions through street enforcements, as well as case studies about how they have been used and their impact.

Our findings were shared in a series of events in 2018 and published as two reports   one on the data, the other on practitioner perspectives – in July 2018.

This project is working in collaboration with a number of other organisations, with the support of the Barrow Cadbury Trust.

Contact Helen Mills for further information. 

What are street enforcements?

Local authorities, the police and housing providers have various powers to sanction particular behaviours in public spaces.

We are using the term ‘street enforcement’ to refer to those measures that can be issued in public places: Dispersal Powers, Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs), and Community Protection Notices (CPNs).

These measures are intended to deal with behaviour impacting on the quality of lives of others. A wide range of behaviours have been targeted by these powers, including street drinking, loitering in groups, and rough sleeping.

These measures encompass actions such as warnings, fines, and confiscation. Breach of these sanctions is a criminal offence, with consequences of a fixed penalty notice, a fine, or court summons.



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