POLL: Will the new protection order make Sunderland a safer and more pleasant city?

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Scores of warning signs are going up today in advance of new powers which come into force next week to tackle nuisances in our city.

A number of activities including begging, bin-raking and irresponsible dog ownership will be banned in key areas of Sunderland from Monday under a Public Space Protection Order.
The order allows enforcement through advice, warnings to stop and desist, and can lead to £75 Fixed Penalty Notices. But will it work?

The three-year order comes into force on Monday April 3, covering the city centre, Mowbray Park, Sunniside, and the University of Sunderland site in and around Chester Road.

Activities covered include:

* Alcohol control – Police and authorised officers have the power to confiscate alcohol in a public space excluding licensed premises where they believe it is causing or is likely to cause anti-social behaviour

* Begging – restricts any person engaging in anti-social/nuisance behaviour while begging. Begging includes any passive and active methods, including but not limited to, non-verbal signs, hand held out, written notice, or verbal attempts to exhort, press, pressure, urge the giving of material help, assistance, food or money

* Bin raking – restricts any person engaging in bin raking. Bin raking is the searching and taking of any items whatsoever from rubbish bins, bags or items clearly left to be disposed of or belonging to another

* Street trading and peddling – restricts any person engaging in anti-social/nuisance behaviour while street trading

* Dog control – prohibits dog fouling, exclusion of dogs to play areas and dogs on lead by direction

* Skateboard and cycles – prevents the anti-social use of skateboards, cycles and stunt cycles causing damage to property, or nuisance or annoyance to one or more persons

* Psychoactive substances – restricts any person eating, drinking, inhaling, injecting, smoking or otherwise taking any psychoactive substance in a public place.

Councillor Harry Trueman, deputy leader of Sunderland City Council and chairman of the Safer Sunderland Partnership, said: "This order is about replacing current controls on the drinking of alcohol in public places and matters such as dog fouling and the keeping of dogs on leads.

"The order is a deterrent to anti-social behaviour and also about controlling and restricting the sort of behaviour that a minority of people engage in and that the majority of people find unacceptable.

"It is all about allowing people to enjoy open public spaces free from nuisance and anti-social behaviour and ensuring central Sunderland is a pleasant place to work in, to live in, and to visit."

The council has the legal powers to introduce the order and it is enforced by Northumbria Police.