A public spaces protection order in Teignmouth once described as a draconian measure to tackle anti-social behaviour is set to be scrapped.

Police and community partners say they have found a more effective way of dealing with low level crime after issuing 100 ‘community protection warnings (CPWs)’ in a six-month trial.

In contrast, just eight warnings have been issued under the public spaces protection order (PSPO) over three years and no-one has been fined.

Teignbridge District Council leader Martin Wrigley (Lib Dem, Dawlish North East) said getting rid of the PSPO, which councillors had “reluctantly” agreed  in 2021, was not a bad thing.

“PSPOs are specific to places and in Teignmouth it just pushes the problem somewhere else outside the zone. It’s not that effective and doesn’t do our town any favours by having signs everywhere. It makes it look like the place is troubled.

“Community protection warnings (CPWs) focus on people and it is usually only a minority of people who are causing the problems.”

CPWs give people a chance to modify their behaviour without formal sanctions being issued. If they do not change their ways, it can lead to a fine or prosecution.

The South Devon and Dartmoor Community Safety Partnership says the pilot had “a significant impact” on tackling anti-social behaviour. The police worked with trading standards, Teign Housing, Livewest, Sanctuary, Westward Housing, Sovereign, the RSPCA as well as with social care and mental health providers.

It says a coordinated approach tackled problems quicker and prevented them escalating, avoiding a more complicated process of issuing formal orders. It had also increased knowledge-sharing on how to combat problems across the district covered by the community safety partnership – Teignbridge, South Hams and West Devon.

Cllr Wrigley said he didn’t believe people would see fewer police on the streets as a result of the PSPO ending and it was good to have the council’s ASB officer heavily involved in a multi-agency-style approach.

“We don’t have enough police anyway. PSPOs do not guarantee you a police officer.”

Community safety partnership executive member Cllr Linda Goodman Bradbury, said:  “The effectiveness of CPWs in changing people’s behaviour during the pilot means that staff time is better focused on continuing the cooperative approach rather than extending or changing the PSPO, under which there have only been eight warnings issued over the past three years and no fines.”

Examples of where CPWs have worked include:

* A young man was stopped from carrying children in his car without parental consent after a trip to Exeter where one child collected drugs.

* A middle-aged man is now working with a treatment provider to combat his substance abuse which led to him causing harassment and nuisance to neighbours. The CPW required him to engage with the drug and alcohol service.

* There was significant impact on a number of houses in a community due to a woman’s behaviour. A CPW was served alongside a housing Anti-Social Behaviour Injunction.

* Cannabis smells from a property led to neighbourhood concern and school reports suggesting young people were taking drugs. No further complaints have been raised following the issue of a CPW and safeguarding measures taken to protect the children.

The PSPO in Teignmouth was designed to reduce anti-social behaviour caused by people drinking alcohol. It covers The Den, The Seafront, the Back Beach, The Triangle, Wellington Street and Lower Brook Street and the restrictions prohibit people from shouting, swearing or acting that causes annoyance harassment, alarm or distress to another person.

People who flouted the order could have been given £100 fixed penalty notices, but none were.

The order will cease at the end of this month.