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Public Spaces

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What are Public Spaces?

A public space is generally open and accessible to people. Roads, pavements, public squares, parks, car parks and beaches are typically considered public spaces. In addition, government buildings which are open to the public, such as libraries, are public spaces.

Public spaces provide people many opportunities to come together and engage with the community. They are important for community cohesion. Public spaces are likely to change over time as a result of physical effects caused, for example by building, but the environment can also change as a result of the people using or misusing that space.

There has been an increased focus on behaviours in public spaces with the Covid-19 pandemic and the case of Sarah Everard. The Safer Streets Round 3 and Safety of Women at Night Fund have been focused on improving safety and security, specifically around prevention of violence against women (see VAWDASV).

The main issues for public spaces are Anti-Social Behaviour in all forms, including fly grazing, harassment, fires, sexual violence, knife crime and other offensive weapon crimes. They are also the focus for Protect following attacks in public spaces (see Terrorism and Extremism).

Prevention is the main focus for public spaces – including limiting access times, increasing CCTV, increasing emergency services presence, better planning, and other measures to empower those most at risk. This activity includes work to design out crime (see Crime Prevention), and to Public Safety including civil contingencies and resilience.

This Act set in place the six remedies currently available to manage ASB, which are: civil injunctions; criminal behaviour orders; community protection notices; public spaces protection orders; closure orders; dispersal powers. It also introduced the community trigger and community remedy.

  • Civil injunctions

Courts award injunctions to stop people engaging in ASB. They can be awarded without notice but are only available if there has been a threat or use of violence.

  • Criminal behaviour orders

Criminal court issued against a person who has been convicted of an offence and is causing ASB.

  • Dispersal powers

Allow the police to order a person who is causing harassment, alarm or distress to leave a specific area for up to 48 hours.

  • Community protection notices

Can be issued by local authorities, police and some housing associations to address a wide range of problems, such as littering and noise nuisance.

  • Public space protection orders

Can be used by local authorities to prevent persistent, unreasonable and/or detrimental behaviour.

  • Design Commission for Wales

Placemaking Wales Charter (YouTube)

Useful Links

Welsh Government – Alert level 0 guidance

View the Guidance

Local Government Association – Public Spaces Protection Orders Guidance

View the Guidance

BBC News – Call for all homes in Wales to be minutes from green space (Future Generations Commissioner)

Read the Article

Play Wales – Share a child-friendly public space

View the Website

Help and Support

For victims, families and concerned people

Help and support is provided for public spaces through local authorities, police and other emergency services.

For help and support for each of the different forms please see their sections on the website.