Balaclava wearers could be hit with instant fine in Southend (should Harlow follow suit?)

Crime / Mon 1st Jul 2024 at 03:53pm

PEOPLE who cover their faces with ski masks and balaclavas in a town centre could be given an instant fine if a council votes to extend a protection order reports the Local Democracy Reporter.

Residents have raised concerns over being intimidated by young people who hide their identity on the High Street in Southend-on-Sea, said Jack Warren, a councillor from Southend-on-Sea City Council. 

Mr Warren has called for the authority to extend its public spaces protection order to ban face coverings and fine or prosecute anyone wearing one. 

Southend’s Business Improvement District has backed the move and said it could help cut crime and reduce “unnecessary challenges in identifying criminals”.

The authority, which is under no overall party control, is expected to debate the motion on 18 July at a full council meeting. 

The current public spaces protection order was established to ban anti-social behaviour such as drinking in the street, begging, spitting and littering.

Mr Warren told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It’s a topic that comes up on the doorstep all the time – people feeling unsafe on the High Street – particularly in the summer. 

“It’s really just wanting to ensure the High Street is an attractive place for people to spend time and not feel unsafe.

“People are saying they feel intimidated by people with their faces covered. In the summer there is no reason for anyone to be wearing a ski mask unless they are here to cause trouble and that’s the sort of thing we want to stamp out.”

Failure to comply with a public spaces protection order is a criminal offence and can result in prosecution, which could lead upon conviction to a fine of up to £1,000 or a fixed penalty notice of £100.

The ban would not include anyone wearing a face covering for medical, safety or religious reasons.

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12 Comments for Balaclava wearers could be hit with instant fine in Southend (should Harlow follow suit?):

Bob Smithers
2024-07-01 18:37:40

I saw two ski mask wearing chaps up the town last weekend it’s not acceptable. My nan was scared to walk to Primark….

2024-07-01 18:56:45

And who is going to impose this instant fine? No Police presence anywhere.

PC Gary
2024-07-01 22:05:16

And then what do we do? Ban hats and sunglasses? It's really not enforceable, anyone could say a face covering is for religious reasons. How could we prove otherwise?

2024-07-02 05:43:41

PC Gary . Perhaps if they are a young white English speaking teenager. And also to check out their parents.

2024-07-02 08:05:02

We are in an age of lawlessness. There's no control over anything. There is no legitimate need for these youths to cover their faces, it's to hide their identity because of criminal activity. It's so blatant now, there's no fear of repercussions.

2024-07-02 08:47:03

Sounds ok to me. We have lots of things that make people safer. Doesn't seem much of a hardship to be asked NOT to wear something. For too long the rights and protection of law abiding citizens seem to have become a low priority.

2024-07-02 10:10:38

You have got to catch them first as these kids or young adults, burglars wear them so you don't get face recognition, as soon as they see police there gone, the same goes for us public we can not describe them. These kids or who ever wear them which is becoming more of a trend for getting up to something or other which is why they wear them in the first place. Even when you call the police they have gone by the time you have made that call & the police actually come out, they are several steps ahead of the police from start & they know it. As for parents about the clothing they wear a balaclava they hide along with the bikes or scooters so parents don't see that as they are not about to wear them in front of parents. Unless there are MORE police protrolling on foot, bikes or cars then this situation is only going to escalate like other countries until it's COMPLETELY unsafe to even put your head out the door at lone enjoy a day out at shops or parks, cycle tracks, fields etc. punishment is not severe enough when they are caught so they just go out & do it again obviously because they know they are running circles around the law.

Tony grossman
2024-07-02 12:09:05

Southend High st is a no go place!!! Don't even leave your home fir fear of getting stabbed!!!

Gary Scott
2024-07-02 13:01:13

Ban all face covering in public,there is no need to hide your face in our society, if you wish to live by these ideology then there are plenty of places that anyone can go to, in the name of safety an security, it should be banned

2024-07-02 14:09:43

No so long ago it was illegal not to wear a face covering, this country is absolutely bonkers

2024-07-02 23:55:41

I saw two people robbing bottles of booze from a supermarket and fighting the security guard for their backpack full of booze. No face masks needed. They knew they could get away long before the police arrive.

Guy Flegman
2024-07-03 10:32:33

Crime rises when no one fears the police. You can have all the new laws you want, but if people don’t fear the police then no one follows the law. It’s time to start cracking heads again

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