Rochdale Council’s swearing ban labelled a ‘misuse’ of power

Civil liberties group Liberty has accused Rochdale Council of misusing its power, following its introduction of a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) which includes a ban on swearing, skateboarding and begging.

Rochdale Council joins Kettering and Salford councils which have also banned swearing as part of their PSPOs, in a bid to cut anti-social behaviour in towns and cities.

Lara ten Caten, legal officer for Liberty, commented: "These proposals are a staggering misuse of power which would unjustifiably curb the rights and freedoms of Rochdale residents.

"The swearing ban is so vaguely defined it would prove impossible for anyone to know whether they were breaking the law or not, while a blanket ban on begging will criminalise some of the most vulnerable people in the town.

"PSPOs are blunt instruments incapable of alleviating hardship or providing support. Sadly they are regularly being used to sweep anything or anyone 'inconvenient' from the streets."

"Until the government opens its eyes to the harm these powers cause, it's up to our local authorities to act responsibly."

Mr Farnell, leader of Labour-led Rochdale Council, said: "We are clamping down on a small minority of antisocial ne'er-do-wells who drunkenly shout and swear and harangue shoppers in our town centre.

"The council is spending £250 million transforming Rochdale town centre and we are not going to let a small number of drunken and abusive idiots spoil it for everyone else."