Ealing Council’s safe zone upheld after Court of Appeal hearing

At the hearing on Tuesday 16 and Wednesday 17 July 2019 the Judges heard arguments from the council and appellants. They concluded that the High Court judge who had dealt with the earlier appeal had been right to find that activities were having a detrimental impact on those in the locality of the clinic and the PSPO was justified for the purposes of protecting those persons from the detrimental effect to their quality of life as a result of the protestors’ activities and decided to dismiss the appeal and upheld Ealing’s Public Space Protection Order in full.

Councillor Julian Bell, Leader of the council, said: “We’re delighted the Court of Appeal has decided to keep our safe zone in place to clinic users and local people from harassment and intimidation. Since we introduced the zone in April 2018, it has been working well and we have seen a dramatic reduction in activities having a detrimental effect and there has been a significant improvement to the quality of lives of local people.

“We hope today’s judgement will provide encouragement for other councils facing similar issues, but at the end of the day, this is a national issue that deserves a national solution.  I’d call on the home secretary to introduce Ealing-style safe zones across the country so other communities and visitors can also be protected.”

Councillor Joanna Camadoo-Rothwell, Ealing Council cabinet member for Community Safety and Inclusion, said: “It has taken a long time and a lot of effort to get this far but today's ruling will ensure that our community and clinic users continue to be protected by this order.

“I’m very proud that we have created the country’s first safe zone in Ealing and today’s judgement is a vindication of the approach we have taken based on the evidence gathered and following local consultation.

“We are extremely pleased the judges are also satisfied that we have followed the correct procedures to protect our residents and clinic users from the behaviours that have a detrimental effect on them.  Intimidating and harassing behaviour should not and, thanks to today's ruling, will not be tolerated.”

Since the safe zone has been in effect, the council’s safer communities’ team has seen the activities that were having a detrimental effect on clinic users and residents’ quality of life around Marie Stopes subside.

Clinic representatives reported an 'air of normality' has returned to the area and women are no longer arriving for their appointments distressed as the activities targeting the users have virtually disappeared.

As part of the safe zone, a designated area has been made available west of the clinic on Mattock Lane for members of represented groups to carry out protests and vigils.  These activities will be subject to several restrictions which will not apply in any areas outside that covered by the PSPO. Anyone who breaches the order can be given a fixed penalty notice or prosecuted under the law.