ALMOST 100 fines have been given out for begging since a public space protection order was made for Darlington town centre.

The public space protection order (PSPO), which was first introduced in 2019, means fines can be handed out for things like antisocial behaviour, begging and drinking alcohol in the town centre.

PSPOs have proved controversial in some quarters, with concerns raised about demonising homeless people and personal freedoms being curtailed.

But Durham Police and Darlington Borough Council both say it is a positive measure to make it easier to tackle issues in the town centre  - and claim the order in Darlington has helped reduce persistent begging. 

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The original order expired in February and a consultation is underway on proposals to renew the scheme.

Since it was introduced in March 2019, 92 fixed penalty notices were issued for begging and 14 were given out for drinking alcohol.

In that time, police have dealt with 983 reports of antisocial behaviour in the town centre and 39 reports of begging, while the council’s civic enforcement officers dealt with 959 incidents of antisocial behaviour and 258 of begging.

A Darlington Borough Council spokeswoman said: “Prior to the introduction of the PSPO there was a high number of people begging in the town centre, the majority of them were not homeless but begging to make money.

“All were offered help and support, the PSPO was used to help reduce those numbers and fines were only issued to those who persistently begged and refused all offers of help.”

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Inspector Dean Haythornthwaite, from Darlington Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “A PSPO is not a blanket ban on certain activities in a certain area - instead, it is a positive measure that enables the police and civic enforcement officers to deal more effectively with disorder, for example by confiscating alcohol from adults.

“This is so people can feel safe, comfortable and unconcerned as they go about their day-to-day business in the town centre which means a better experience for everyone.”

The PSPO, which can lead to fines of up to £1,000 if people breach the restrictions, is one part of the council’s begging strategy, which was created in partnership with the 700 Club, a Darlington-based homelessness charity.

An eight-week consultation is underway and the council is inviting views on whether the PSPO should be renewed.

It would cover the town centre, extending as far as North Lodge Park, Stanhope Green, St Cuthbert’s Road and part of Victoria Road.

Councillor Jonathan Dulston, the council’s deputy leader, said: “We want to make sure everyone feels safe coming into Darlington and to make the town centre as welcoming as it can be. 

“The PSPO has proved to be a useful tool in helping us and the police tackle anti-social behaviour, including begging or street drinking where those responsible refuse to engage and take advice from our civic enforcement team or the police.

“It is not a blanket ban on certain activities but helps us deal more effectively with issues and is only used as a proportionate response.

“We are now inviting comments as to whether use of a PSPO should be continued and would urge residents, businesses and others interested to let us know what they think.”

More information about the PSPO and how members of the public can give their comments can be found at or you can share your views by contacting the Civic Enforcement team on 01325 406 999. The consultation runs until Monday 25 April.

Anti-social behaviour can be reported to the Darlington Neighbourhood Policing Team on 101 or to the Council’s Civic Enforcement Team on 01325 406 999.

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