National buffer zones not proportionate

17 Sep 2018

Local Government, Public Law and Judicial Review

The Government last week released a Written Statement confirming the outcome of its Abortion Clinic Protest Review.

Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, recognises the damaging impact of the behaviour occurring outside 1 in 10 abortion clinics, but he confirms that the Government does not intend to introduce legislation which would allow ‘buffer zones’ to be introduced nationally.

The statement confirms the use of a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) such as that implemented in Ealing is one way of tackling the problems. It also notes that the PSPO has been effective in tackling the harassment and intimidation occurring there. The full statement can be read here.

PSPOs are used to tackle anti-social behaviour which is having a detrimental impact on the quality of life of those within a defined locality. They can place controls on everyone within that space and have been used in various contexts including dog control, car cruising, charity collection and protests outside abortion clinics.

Kuljit Bhogal and Tara O’Leary worked with Ealing to implement its abortion PSPO which includes a ‘safe zone’ and ‘designated area’ for protests and/or prayer vigils to take place. Their e-flash on the High Court decision upholding the lawfulness of Ealing’s PSPO can be found here.

Kuljit has advised a number of local authorities on proposed PSPOs and actual or threatened challenges to them. She is able to provide advice on the use of PSPOs in respect of clinic protests or other behaviour having a detrimental impact on the use of public spaces.