There's not enough evidence for a buffer zone, admits council
25 January 2018
Cllr Barrie Hargrove says that the council doesn't have enough evidence of harassment to bring in a PSPO
No council has succeeded in banning pro-life vigils.
Southwark Council has said that it doesn't have enough evidence of harassment by pro-lifers to bring in restrictions on protests or vigils around the Blackfriars Medical Centre.
Last November, councillors unanimously backed a motion supporting the idea of a 'buffer zone' around the Blackfriars Medical Practice in Colombo Street, where Abort67 has been witnessing.
However, on Tuesday the cabinet received an update from Cllr Barrie Hargrove, Labour cabinet member for communities, safety and leisure who said: "At the moment we don't have the extent of evidence ... to bring in a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO)."
Where's the evidence?
Allegations of intimidation and harassment by people holding pro-life vigils and demonstrations have been made at council meetings up and down the country, but as SPUC testified to the Home Affairs Select Committee, no evidence has been presented. SPUC's Alithea Williams also made the same point on BBC News, in reaction to a buffer zones motion that was passed in Manchester yesterday.
This week has also seen motions opposing pro-life vigils passed by Lambeth and Richmond councils. Clare McCullough, director of the Good Counsel Network, said: "It is disheartening to see that the only people not allowed to have their say on buffer zones are the women who received help to keep their babies outside abortion centres. Lambeth in particular refused to allow one such mother to speak."
No actual bans
Although many councils have now passed motions calling for a ban on pro-life vigils outside abortion clinics, none have yet been implemented. As the news from Southwark shows, they simply do not have the evidence required to implement a PSPO and many councillors and politicians have expressed reservations about whether such a move is an appropriate or legal course of action. It appears that many councils are moving the motions to put pressure on the Home Office (which is currently holding a consultation on the issue) to introduce new legislation.
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